Although women activists claim to work for women’s rights, Friday evening’s protest by members of Women’s Action Forum (WAF) outside the Karachi Press Club presented a different picture. As activists chanted feminist slogans at a ‘torch rally’ on International Women’s Day, Kaneez Awan wept behind her banner on a pavement near the club, hoping that activists would lend a sympathetic ear, if nothing else.
However, much to her dismay, the activists were busy organising their walk from the Press Club to the Arts Council and back, as Kaneez sat there with her husband’s shirt stained with blood. “My husband has been illegally detained in Landhi Jail on allegations of robbery and is being physically tortured by the police. I have not seen him since February 21, 2008, and was only given his stained Kameez (shirt) by the jailer when I insisted I wanted to see him. They say he attempted suicide in the prison with a blade, but I know they are lying,” disclosed Kaneez who along with her mother-in-law sent out an appeal to the President; Governor, Sindh; and the IG, Sindh, to release her innocent husband immediately.
During an interview with The News, Kaneez said that an FIR (52/08) was lodged against her husband by her neighbour, Sultan, who she claims tried to avenge the humiliation she caused him by refusing to allow him to encroach on an area in their neighbourhood to establish his office. “Sultan wanted to establish an office by the name of ‘People’s Youth Wing’ but I raised an objection because he was trying to occupy public property.”
Kaneez is a journalist working as a bureau chief at Karachi for a Lahore-based newspaper Lahore and said Sultan threatened to “teach her a lesson” if she did not permit him to occupy the land. Kaneez says she does not have enough money for her husband’s bail and has filed several applications with higher authorities, but has received no response as yet. “I was hoping to get some help here when I heard some NGOs and female activists would come together at the club to mark International Women’s Day, but am returning disappointed,” she said.
Before the rally, members of Rah Ro, a local theatre group of Pak-Colony performed a ten-minute street theatre “Hawwa ki Beti”. The actors highlighted women’s rights and problems faced by them at the workplace, harassment in public places and domestic violence. The performance was highly appreciated.
Source: The News