A victim of love – Atiya
Atiya is a young married woman from tribal areas, living in Peshawar. Coming from the tribal background means some family norms need to be adopted. She did not want to adopt them, or she was too carried away, fantasizing love stories that she rebelled against her family.
She wanted to marry this man, her family did not approve of him, she felt there was no choice but to rebel and rebel she did – She married him against her family’s wishes. Life seemed different before she was married to him, for the love story seemed perfect. The odds against them meant the couple’s bond was worth it. She had to materialize the love story and live with the love of her life.
She broke off from her family, and moved in with him. He changed. He was not the same man after marrying her. One fine day, he left her – with no contacts to connect and no where to be found. She hoped he would return, but he had left for good. She had no money and the rented shelter was to be evacuated. Once again, she had to make a choice – to go back to parents or live on streets?
She knew how it was to live on streets, she had seen it. She preferred her distraught family. She went back thinking her blood would welcome her back, but that was not the case. The moment she entered her parents house, and told her family of the ordeal – that the man for whom she rebelled with them, and according to her father, disgraced them in the whole society had ditched her, her father died of shock.
The family was in disarray and disbelief, they had seen too much of pain lately. They refused to keep her and asked her to leave “her” house. She got on a train to Rawalpindi, not knowing where she would go and what will happen with her.
She heard me on a radio show 4 weeks ago, and she had saved my number, for even then, things started looking murky.
She had enough credit on her phone to call me. I was shocked and lost, did not know what to do. I was not in Islamabad, and my family had gone to Gujranwala as a relative died. She cried of death and how she would give herself under the train, for she saw no reason to live.
I had not dealt with such a matter previously, of course. I tried contacting women rights NGO’s/Groups to get her picked up from train-station and take her to a safe house, at least for the night. No one seemed to help. Big names of women rights activism hung up on me and the corporate world of human rights activism, once again exposed its shallowness to me (I have had some bad experiences previously too).
I contacted around 12 such NGO’s who were running facilities for shelter-less women, but some of them said it was too late, as they close at 5 PM and others simply said bye! I will not name them here, as I do not want to hurt the cause, that they seem to propagate, as whatever the case be, they are helping women in need & I am no one to hurt the greater good they are doing, but it was shameful! I had apprised them of the situation, that she has suicidal tendencies and she will not last long, as she does not have a place to go, and the more she is exposed to the cruel world, she will be inclined to take her life, but stupid reasons of ‘our facility closes at 5 PM’ (as if after 5 PM no woman can go shelter-less), ‘we are already helping women’, ‘we cannot take such cases without guardians approval’ (as if no woman can run from her house in rebellion) echoed from every corner.
She was already on the train, which was about to hit Rawalpindi station in 20-30 minutes. After getting no timely response from top notch women’s rights activists, I had no choice but to contact my friends in the political sphere and Benazir Bhutto Shaheed’s Crisis Cell told me to get her transported to their facility. The only place where they were ‘ready’ to provide shelter, to a woman who had lost a husband, a father, a family in very short span of time, and who had no place to live.
She is kept in special treatment unit there, because of her mental health and suicidal tendencies, with no contact with the outer world, not even on phone, and tomorrow we will try to get her shifted to a better facility.
My years of experience in activism have taught me a lesson, never to contact children’s rights group when a child is in imminent danger and never to contact a women rights facility when a woman is in danger.
I am thankful to Sana Saleem, Beena Sarwar, Maham Ali and Samar Minallah for their timely responses and their help, when I had lost it.
Her ordeal continues, I shall keep you updated. For the women reading this, try to understand there is no love purer that your parents, and to the men reading this, we need to make an example out of our breed who treat human beings like tissue papers. For the parents reading this, please do not let your child go away when he/she has no place to go. For the ‘corporate’ human rights activists/groups, you can only help when media boasts your image and the money, on which you live, gets multiplied when media is there to ‘cover’ your heroics.
- Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi