ISLAMABAD: Wearing a dark pair of sunglasses, with the edges of her veil extending a few inches off her forehead, 39-year-old Shazia Ejaz was trying to mask a lifetime of pain.
Ejaz belong to a middle-class family from Qanchi — a small town nestled in the bustling city of Lahore. The only girl out of her parents’ four children, she was her father’s favourite child.
“There was a twinkle in his eyes, every time he spoke of me. But my aunts hated me and that landed me in the state I am in today,” said Ejaz.
She lived in a two-marla house with her mentally-challenged mother and 10 other family members including her unmarried aunts, who she said were not appreciative of how her father supported her in family issues.
“It started with small family disagreements which later turned ugly,” she said. My father did not approve of the men my aunts wanted to marry.
Ejaz added that they held that grudge against her father and threatened him on various occasions by saying if they could not find happiness, neither would she.
She was 15 when her mother asked her to collect clothes from a local tailor, an otherwise unremarkable chore that would become the point her decades of suffering began.
While she was talking with the tailor, four armed men kidnapped her, taking her to a school nearby, where she was gang-raped. When she escaped and got home, she shared the story with her family. Her aunts insisted that she be married off. Later, the family forcibly married her to a 40-year-old man. During her marriage, she says she learnt that her aunts were involved in prostitution, and that her husband was one of their clients.
‘It was not the life I wanted’
“I was beaten by my husband almost every day. I went to my father’s house one day with bruises all over me, and at this point, my father asked me to stay with him. Ejaz continued her education and got a bachelors degree. She then worked in the telecom sector and did well enough to get a few promotions and a reasonable salary. “My success further ignited their hate.”
Ejaz claims that her aunts later poisoned her father as well as her grandparents to get her guardians out of the way.
She said her aunts again arranged for her to be picked up, this time by a local goon Qazim. He held Ejaz hostage for six months. “I was drugged each night and raped multiple times by various men,” Ejaz said with tears in her eyes. “It was not the life I wanted,” she said.
Ejaz then managed to escape and tried to lodge a complaint in the local police station against her aunts and Qazim, but the police refused to admit her application. “My aunts would provide the police with girls and alcohol. I was helpless,” she said.
Ejaz was then brought home by her brother, but even he was not able to protect her. “They shaved my head and beat me afterwards,” she said.
In 2008, Ejaz wrote to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who met her. “I met him with 19 stitches and bruises all over,” she said. Sharif took up her case, gave her Rs100,000 and ordered an inquiry against Qazim, who was arrested.
Around 5am on May 12, 2009, Ejaz woke up with her skin feeling crimped. She walked to the mirror and was stunned by what she saw. “A haunting image of myself, I thought it was a dream,” Ejaz said. She believes she had been sedated before being the attack which has left burns on her face, neck and arms.
Yet again, she was not able to get a case registered against her aunts.
Down to her last Rs5,000 from the assistance granted by CM Sharif, Ejaz decided to turn towards the capital in July this year. Living at the shrine in Golra for days, she once again wrote to the Punjab chief minister to help her get justice.
Ejaz has now shifted to an acid survivors’ shelter, Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) where she has undergone a medical assessment. Apart from the physical wounds, she also needs help dealing with the trauma of the mental scars. ASF is arranging for her medical treatment and providing her with legal aid.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th,2014.
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Either you belongs to rich family or you live outside of the Pakistan. There is no justice, no human rights, no merit , no quality education, no clean water , no social benefits and so much corruption that if Quaid-e-Azam would be alive today he would be saddest person on the planet to see such condition of Pakistanis.
There are different laws for rich and poor. If you deny this fact then I would be wasting my time writing this message to you.
In deed good follow up of case and once again I observed that CM help never change life of survivors of rape or acid survivors. If writ of government cannot be strong then multiplication of such cases will be going on. System should be changed for the support of survivors rather then giving them amount, as it is not matter of one person.
@RK: @Mahwish: Honestly speaking, please treat the cause of all Evils. Rather than the one who get hurt by it. So remove Leaders who can't serve the justice... I was the voter of PML-N but they lead me down.
@RK ... Read what @Syed Ali Shah has to say and then revise your sentence to "Allah will not have mercy on us".
@Syed Ali Shah Are you talking about that Dr Tahirul Qadri who threatened to set the whole country on fire which Quaid-e-Azam, our soldiers and ancestors got after sacrificing their lives. If I am not wrong you are talking about that guy. AM I right?
@Syed Ali Shah Are you talking about that Dr Tahirul Qadri who threatened to set the whole country on fire which Quaid-e-Azam, our soldiers, ancestors got after lot of sacrifices? If I am not wrong it is the man.
This is the case of justice not served. Police culture has to be changed. It has to changed by the PM and CM right ? But when we have corrupt politicians sitting at the top as Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers who get to the power every time by rigging the pools with the help of corrupt Policemen, civil servants and bureaucrats, then there will never be hope of change.
This is why we have to support Imran Khan and Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, the only hope for Pakistan
It is a sad state of affairs when we'd rather march to remove the PM, or in support of the PM, rather than look around in our own neighborhoods to help people like her. Our thoughtlessness has, undoubtedly, made our current state most deserved. Just this simple article sheds light on all that is wrong with us as a society. May Allah have mercy on us all.