MULTAN: On April 14, two men entered Asma Firdous’ home, cut off six of her fingers, slashed her arms and lips and then sliced off her nose. Before leaving the house, the men locked their 28-year-old victim inside.
Asma, from impoverished Kohaur Junobi village in Pakistan’s south, was mutilated because her husband was involved in a dispute with his relatives, and they wanted revenge.
Her fate is familiar in parts of Pakistan’s remote and feudal agricultural belts, where women are often used as bargaining chips in family feuds, and where the level of violence they face is increasing in frequency and brutality.
At the hospital in nearby Multan town, Asma’s shocked parents sat quietly by her bedside and struggled to explain what the future holds for their now disfigured daughter.
“I don’t know what will happen to her when she leaves here,” Asma’s father, Ghulam Mustafa, said, in a dilapidated ward heavy with the smell of antiseptic and blood, where other women, doused with acid or kerosene by relatives or fellow villagers, awaiting an equally uncertain future.
Asked if Asma will return to her husband, her father remains silent.
Pakistan is the world’s third-most dangerous country for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, based on a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (link.reuters.com/jet92s)
In its 2010 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says almost 800 women were victims of “honour killings” — murders aimed at preserving the honour of male relatives — and 2,900 women reported raped — almost eight a day.
The bulk, or almost 2,600, were raped in Punjab alone, Pakistan’s most populous province.