A man with a heavily bandaged face woke up to see his nephew holding a plastic bag. It contained what was left of his nose and ears.
Traumatised, Khudadad Brohi, want unconsciousness again, waking up to the horror a couple of hours later to realise that things would not change.
“I can’t smell. I can’t breathe properly. In my ears, I keep on hearing this ‘shoosh’ noise. I am neither dead nor alive,” Brohi told The Express Tribune, two weeks after his nose and ears were hacked off.
Bandages and tapes covered the area where his nose and ears once were, as he sat uncomfortably in a charpoy at his brother’s house in Mehran Town.
The heinous act done to this 40-year-old man was by his own kin; his cousins, also the direct family of his second wife. The issue is a stark reminder that women are not the only ones who bear the brunt of domestic violence. Sadly, however, male victims often go unnoticed.
It started off with a domestic dispute regarding household chores between the man and his second wife, followed by a visit by the woman’s brother and uncles, relatives of Brohi as well.
“They demanded that I divorce my wife,” said Brohi. “I did not want to but they forced me into doing so.”
However, this was far from the end of it. Early morning on April 10, the man woke up to a loud commotion. Suddenly, he was being beaten up with sticks. The relatives of his second wife made him sniff chloroform and, using a paper cutter, sliced off his nose and ears. “I was not fully unconscious and when they were cutting off, I could feel immense pain,” he recalled. He tried to resist but ended up getting his hand cut from the sharp blade.
Seeing Brohi in a pool of blood, his mother fainted as his children stood still and watched, too terrified to even move. Brohi’s first wife was also beaten up by the men and had her arm broken. “Look what they did to me,” she said in broken Urdu.
It was later in the hospital that Brohi fully grasped what had happened. “I was withering in pain. I could not eat or sit. There was blood in my eyes.”
The bleeding from his eyes had stopped but they were suddenly filled with tears.
“It would have been better if they had killed me rather than leaving me like this,” he said with bitter helplessness. A small mirror hung on the wall behind him but he refuses to look at it, too horrified of what will stare back.
The family, hailing from Sanghar, moved to Karachi after the 2010 floods. Here, near the Northern Bypass where he lived, they farmed for a living. “I married my second wife on watta-satta [a tradition in which a man marries the sister of his sister’s husband].”
Brohi’s confidence has left him along with his ears and nose and he is concerned for those for whom he is responsible. “I have six daughters and a wife to feed, but who will give me work like this?” he asked.
An ear for an ear?
Despite what happened, he does not want the same punishment for those who wronged him. “They are animals but I am not,” he said. “I don’t want their face mutilated. I want justice and want them jailed for their crimes.”
A case against the accused has been registered at the Mangophir police station but no one has been arrested yet. Investigation officer Imdad Ali says that the accused, along with the second wife, have fled to Balochistan. “According to our investigations, the criminals have escaped to Balochistan,” said Ali. “We have asked permission from the home department to let us enter the area and arrest them.”
The other side of domestic violence
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Abdul Hayee said that there is no data on male victims who suffer from domestic violence in the country. “Men often do not report these cases because they feel that their masculinity will be ridiculed,” he said. “They fear they will be called weak, so they only come forward something really serious occurs.”
Meanwhile, women rights activist Mahnaz Rahman feels that this is a circle of violence. “Usually those men who are abused do not have resources or power,” she said. “If they face such injustice, then they take it out on their wives at home. Therefore, the cycle goes on.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2014.
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