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Woman burns herself for being forced to remarry

By: Kashif Zafar

BAHAWALPUR: An 18-year-old girl set herself on fire a night before her wedding on Sunday. According to the police, the girl set herself on fire after her family refused to let her marry the man of her choice and were about to force her to marry someone else.

Mohalla Bani Garahha resident, Shumaila, 18, set herself on fire a night before her wedding. Doctors have said that Shumaila has suffered third degree burns to over 65 per cent of her body and that she told police officials her parents were forcing her to marry a man of their choice.

“I had already married Waqar in court some time ago but they wouldn’t listen and were trying to get me to marry my cousin,” she told police officials.

(Read: Pakistan’s treatment of women fails Islam, says Sayeeda Warsi)

Shumaila’s neighbour said that she and Waqar had been in love. “They both knew that the family wouldn’t approve so they got married in secret in court. Shumaila didn’t tell her parents until they started arranging her marriage with her cousin,” her neighbour Bushra said.

“They set the date for September 17 and no matter how much she protested they refused. She even told them about the wedding but they said it did not matter,” she said. “I didn’t know what she was going to do but she was certainly upset. She asked me to try and help her run away,” she added.

According to Shumila, who recorded her statement with the police, she set fire to her bed, while she was sitting on it. “I sprinkled the kerosene across the sheets and lit the match because I didn’t have any other way out,” she said.

Civil Courts judge Asif Rehman married Shumaila and Waqas a few months ago and court records state that Waqas’s friends acted as witnesses for the event.

Shumaila was admitted to Bahawal Victoria Hospital and doctors said that she had sustained burns to over 65 percent of her body. “Her condition is critical and we have asked for her to be shifted to Multan Nishtar Hospital because there is no burns unit here,” said a doctor at the hospital. Shumaila was later shifted to the tehsil hospital from where she will be taken to Nishtar Hospital. “She is in critical condition and most of her body is covered with third degree burns. She is also being administered a drip because she hadn’t eaten for days,” Dr Babar said.

A case has been registered under Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in the Kotwali Police Station but no person has been nominated in this case. Station House officer (SHO) Rasheed Channar said that police officials were investigating the case. “We took Shumaila’s statement before her condition worsened and are speaking to her family and neighbours,” he said.

Shumaila’s 9-year-old neighbour Aqsa told reporters that she had paid her to purchase kerosene oil from the market. “I got the oil from the money and gave it to her,” she said. Police officials said that a shopkeeper had confirmed the purchase.

Source: The Express Tribune


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