Woman relives trauma of being flogged

Published: November 29, 2010

Saira, the woman who was publicly flogged by the Taliban, with her son in Swat. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ

SWAT: “I still wonder why they flogged me,” says Saira, the woman who was publicly flogged by the obscurantist Taliban in the Swat Valley of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa last year.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Saira recalls the humiliation, the trauma she suffered when she was flogged by a self-styled Taliban vigilante squad amid jeers of a gun-toting crowd of militants. She was punished for “having an extramarital affair” with a man from her in-laws.

Saira, a resident of the Asharbanr area, in Charbagh tehsil, the erstwhile stronghold of the fugitive cleric Maulana Fazalullah, locally known as Mullah Radio, who had spearheaded a bloody campaign for the enforcement of his own hard-line version of Islamic laws in the valley.

Saira was married to Fazal Azim, a day labourer. And she was awarded 30 lashes by a self-styled Taliban shariah court for a crime she had never committed.

“Some relatives of my in-laws, who supported the Taliban, had blamed me to settle old scores with my spouse,” Saira told The Express Tribune with her little son in her lap.

“One day the son of Gul Nazar and Maulvi Abdur Rehman came to our house and accused me of having an illicit relation with a man in my in-laws,” she said. “I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe I’ll be charged with such a serious crime in a joint family,” she added.

Saira said that her husband was working as a day labourer in Hyderabad, Sindh, at that time. The Taliban sharia court “convicted” me without hearing me.

“An announcement was made from the loudspeakers of the village mosque about my ‘conviction’. And all villagers were invited to a local state-run school to watch the flogging,” Saira recalled the incident.

“It was unbelievable. I rushed to the punishment spot to convince them of my innocence. But they refused to hear me. They flogged me 15 times, right in front of a crowd of villagers,” she said, breaking down in tears.

As if it was not humiliation enough, the next day they took her to another place in the village and whipped her again.

“I wanted to drop dead. I wanted to end my life. Because I couldn’t face local villagers,” she said of the trauma she suffered after the incident.

But the reaction from the villagers, contrary to her fears, was sympathetic. “They condemned the Taliban for punishing me without hearing me out,” Saira said.

Ironically, after punishing Saira, the Taliban then asked her in-laws to call her spouse back from Hyderabad because they wanted to punish him too. “We were unable to understand why they wanted to punish my husband who was not even present in the village,” he added.

Saira said that she has left the matter to God. “We are poor and helpless people. We want to live peacefully. I wish for a divine chastisement for those who humiliated me,” she added.

Saira is not the lone woman who suffered at the hands of the loyalists of Maulana Fazlullah. Scores of other women were punished by the so-called sharia courts on the basis of hearsay during the ruthless and draconian rule of the Taliban.

Saira, who is expectant now, says she is waiting for help from human rights organisations to start her life afresh.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:54AM

    Animals, that’s all these people can be called. The damage they have caused Islam is incomprehensible.

    People should stand up against these people & people who sympathize with these idiots, and people who have romanticize these animals as Islamic warriors (Lal Masjid) should be the ones flogged in public.

    We should send these people to Afghanistan. Shariah Law is a dangerous tool in the hands of these people.Recommend

  • rahmat
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:29AM

    it is extremely inhuman,, irreligious,and above all the action shows the whole picture of the society describing its brutal men chauvinistic and artificial men supremacy over poor women,who are creeping under the gender discrimination extremistic approach in Pakistan….pakistan is place where the trichotomy.mullah,millitory and imperial states have a strong bond exploiting basic human rights ,,,,,,,,the feminist champions and human right activist including some moderate political parties including ruling party are still in qoma and in deadly confusion…………………Recommend

  • Gulalai
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:30AM

    we have to uncover thousands of such stories occured in the dark era of militancyRecommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 11:13AM

    Good efforts to uncover the actual facts about this much spoken issue of the past. this was raised by the civil society but the government claimed it as false. Now the truth is uncovered. I will support gulalai opinion that there are thousands of stories of that black era and we need to bring that to the surface. may be this make us to learn from the history.
    Manana
    Fazal Recommend

  • Someone
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:34AM

    Just shows how ‘Islamic’ the Taliban version of Sharia is..Recommend

  • Ehsan Haq
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:56AM

    Animals, Animals, and Animals. No other word to describe such elements.
    Where is Imran Khan?
    Where is Jama’at-e-Islami ????
    They both must be very happy after reading this story.Recommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:48PM

    To my understanding wasn’t that flogging all staged by some NGO for just half a million rupees?Recommend

  • Ramzaan
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:09PM

    The problem is systemic, we need to break the grip of religion on day to day activities of people… religion is a personal matter between the individual and Allah…..no mullah or maulvi has the right to tell us whats right and wrong….We all know that most of these mullah are not realized saints like the sufis that used to be in the yore… Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 1:21PM

    I thought she didnt exist and was a maligned conspiracy against Islam?Recommend

  • ZZQ
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:29PM

    Yes the govt. too obstinately denied the veracity of this tragic (read shameful) incident. Then remember all the emails denouncing role of media in spreading this news and all those false claims about this story been concocted by some NGO…

    Why on earth do our religious parties do not denounce such acts of barbarism and are too quick on blaming media and NGOs for all the wrong (so called) propaganda about Talibaans. Cant they realize where they are taking this country and Ummah! 1,000 years back! Recommend

  • faraz
    Nov 29, 2010 - 2:21PM

    Atleast the Swat militants have been made to pay for the atrocities they committed on the locals. Recommend

  • Owais
    Nov 29, 2010 - 2:34PM

    It is so shameful for anyone to fulfill their own desires and augment their own domination over the weak. ALLAH commands to be good to the ones over He has given someone power. May ALLAH provide justice to this woman in this life only and give exemplary punishment who those who malign Shariah for their one ends. Ameen

    On the other hand, the above comments are interesting. There is a strong assumption that this story is related to the video aired some months back on various TV channels. I, for one, do not find any reference to that incident in the above piece. The way this story has been written, implies a connection between the two. But at best it is that, an implication. And going a step further, some people comment on the veracity of that incident. When I read something like this coming from comparatively educated class of Pakistani I think about all those people in Pakistan, blindly following one type of peer or another or any religious (or far that matter political) party. In comparison, I do not find any difference between the two. The fact that both do not question what is presented to them perfectly reflects our collective state of mind. We are a bandwagon. Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 3:13PM

    is it the same flogging that we saw on TV? I remember reading it in the newspaper that it was staged by some NGO and it never really happened… even if it was staged but what really saddens me is that we were so quick to believe it because we know that we are capable of doing such a horrible thing.Recommend

  • khan
    Nov 29, 2010 - 4:18PM

    @Hasim Abbasi, No sir this is the different incident a true and real oneRecommend

  • Raaz
    Nov 29, 2010 - 5:58PM

    shame on every one who weas witnessing the floggingRecommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 9:26PM

    these taliban beasts!!!!!Recommend

  • Yusaf Khan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 12:04AM

    Taliban Khan is sitting in London…..maybe he can comment on this story? or where are our esteemed journalists who rather than researching the story started quoting ayats from the Quran during the interview to justify the beating. Even the government couldn’t step forward and give the facts. Recommend

  • Humayun M
    Nov 30, 2010 - 3:44AM

    @ Gulalai – “from the dark era of militancy” ? who said its over?

    @ faraz – they’ve just gone into hiding from that area..and spread into bigger cities… the battle hasn’t been won yet sadly..Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:17AM

    What should be the solution for future preventionRecommend

  • Amjad Ali Sahaab
    Nov 30, 2010 - 3:45PM

    Really it gave me a creep. They were brutals. Fie upon them on such brutality. I’m really very sorry for Saira. We all are responsible for this brutal act if remained silent. We should play our own roles to give justice to Saira as Fazal played his own.
    Mai to Sharminda hon is dawr ka insan ho kar. Recommend

  • Raaz
    Nov 30, 2010 - 5:20PM

    it needs a century to come out of the brutality and illitracyRecommend

  • sikander
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:40AM

    I agree you all cannot trust any. But please let us use our common sense.

    Leave the Religion at home and follow it to your hearts contant there. Do not bring it to the streets.

    But then I am happy that there are so many who realise that. Thanks AllahRecommend

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