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Woman steps up to share how she survived violence

By: Sidrah Roghay

Karachi: In the village Nek Parveen lived in child marriages were common; her parents did her Nikah when she was 11 years old, and at 15 she was sent off to her in-laws. At 16 she became pregnant with her first child, and when she was six months pregnant she was thrown out of her house. Her in-laws took her back when she gave birth to a baby girl. The process went on till four more pregnancies. She was kicked out when she was expecting and taken in after she delivered the child.

“My husband did not want to take care of the child expenses,” she said as she stood at the podium during a panel discussion on gender-based violence held by HANDS on Saturday.

The violence continued, and her husband once pushed their eight-month-old daughter onto a wooden stove. “By the time I reached her, she was burnt badly. She has never been normal again.”

Parveen’s parents tried to get their granddaughter treated, but her husband forced her to stop the treatment. With time her husband sent her off with their daughter to her mother’s home, and kept their four sons.

“In a rage of violence he once beat up my youngest son to death. He sent the body with my eldest son. He came to me and said, Ami this is for you’.”

This was when Parveen decided she had had it. “I filed for Khula, and my family supported me. Then I began to use my skills to earn a living.” With time she was able to find a job at HANDS, and life moved on, better than before.

On the occasion, Siraj un Nisa Essani, vice chairperson HANDS, said that a woman was the biggest enemy of a woman. “It is the mother who asks a daughter to fill in a preconceived role, then a mother-in-law and so on. A young girl should be raised in a manner that she knows she is nobody’s servant.”

Sharmila Farooqi, who attended the discussion, shared that there were 7,000 registered NGOs in Sindh, and apart from four to five organisations not many were working. “A three-year record of these organisations should be taken out and the dysfunctional ones should not only be closed but also penalised.”

She was highly critical of the media that, she said, gave more importance to the “memo issue” than women rights.

Hilda Saeed, a staunch women rights activist, appreciated the various bills passed in parliament for women rights. “The situation is better than before,” she said but criticised how society devalued “house work done by women”.

Shamim Haider criticised how Islam was always used to let women issues take a backseat. “Yes, religion alleviates the status of women, but are the rights being implemented? It is like talking about how effective a medicine is but not taking it to improve the ailment.”

Source: The News