Samra*,22, who was shot dead on Sunday over ‘honour’, is now at risk of becoming just another number to add to 2014’s toll of such atrocities.
Eight hundred and sixty-nine. That’s just the number of women who were reported to have been killed in Pakistan in 2013, over the morally ambiguous word ‘honour’. There are far fewer statistics on the convictions of those responsible.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) report for the year gone by, for ‘women’—a section neatly tucked under the heading ‘Rights of the disadvantaged’—a lack of control over their bodies and lives was a problem which continued unchanged into 2013. “Often they faced violence simply for stepping out of their homes,” said the report.
For Samra, stepping out of her house unleashed a chain of violence and accusations, eventually leading to her death.
Samra was shot point-blank by her husband—another eventuality predicted by the HRCP report which said husbands remained the most common perpetrators of domestic violence.
When her husband Muhammad Tahir, a resident of Dheri Chari, Mirpur union council in Abbottabad, surrendered to the police on Monday, he said, “I decided to get rid of the dishonour Samra brought to me and took her to the village field and shot her in the head.”
According to Tahir, Samra and her two-year-old boy Kamran* went missing from their house during Ramazan. Her six-month-old child Sameer* was left behind.
Tahir said he lodged an FIR with Mirpur police who tracked Samra through her mobile phone to Chilas in G-B.
Doomed if you don’t
Two weeks ago, added Tahir, Samra told the court of the judicial magistrate she had only gone to Islamabad to attend Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s protest in Islamabad. She refuted accusations that she had eloped with a man from her village identified as Saifur Rehman.
Her husband said his parents had allegedly caught Samra with Saif at two separate occasions soon after Samra and Tahir got married three years ago.
However, the magistrate granted Samra’s request to be sent to a shelter, Darul Aman when she said she felt insecure after accusations of infidelity.
On August 16, her family called and said one of her sons had fallen sick. Tahir collected his wife and the other son from the shelter after submitting a surety with the court.
Doomed if you do
He told the police he brought Samra back under the pretext of their child’s ill health so he could ask her why she went missing from their house.
That is when the 22-year-old mother of two said she had actually been lured by Saif to a park in the village and then forcibly taken to Chilas.
There, Samra had told her husband, Saif and four other unidentified men had raped her repeatedly for several days. They even made a cell phone video of their alleged crime, and used it to threaten her to “keep my mouth shut”, Tahir quoted his wife as telling him.
The alleged rapists also told Samra to divorce her husband, something she had said she was unwilling to do.
Tahir told the police on Monday that even after he took Samra from the shelter, she allegedly saw Saif twice.
“I could not tolerate that,” said her husband, who knew if Samra had indeed met Saif, it could well be the latter had blackmailed the woman, using the video.
But, Tahir said, he could not live with a woman who had been videotaped nude, disregarding the horror his wife and the mother of his two children would have gone through if she had been raped.
*Name changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2014.