Religious extremism, entrenchment of patriarchal values and conservatism being embedded in the very core of the society of Pakistan lead to marginalization and seclusion of women at all levels. Women, in Pakistan constitute 52% of country’s population; constitute 60 to 70 percent of labour force in informal sector of economy remains most vulnerable segment of society. There are countless forms of violence against women in the society victimizing women and furthering their marginalization to extremes.
Religion is used as one of the biggest tools alongside socio-cultural manifestation of power, which is used against women. Religious leaders who are considered sacred authority on almost all the facets of life often term women as evil which needs to be contained and confined, should be hidden and veiled. Of late these extreme interpretations of religious texts have lead to heinous crimes and inhuman treatment of women. These religious extremists, who derive their power from their acceptance by society, often manipulate this power for their personal gains.
Somi Khalid’s life came crashing down, when one night acid was thrown on her face, while she was sleeping in her house at night. The reason for this incident was the fact that she refused to marry a person, a cousin of hers, belonging to an extremist group namely, Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen. Faisal Younus who is known as Osama Sulfi who proposed her for marriage got really offended on her refusal, and having found the opportunity ruined her life by throwing acid.
The culprit was caught and Somi Khalid showing great courage not only highlighted her issue in front of press and having found support from media, also lodged a complaint with police. The culprit was caught after intensive media coverage of the issue and sentenced for 32 years in jail. This sentence and subsequent imprisonment of the culprit in the jail did not end the story here. Somi Khalid had undergone very intensive treatment and still the treatment is continued. While, her life remains under threat as she along with her family is continuously pressurized to withdraw the accusation against the culprit and if she doesn’t do so, she will be killed. The associates of the culprit belonging to the same terrorist network are constantly threatening her and she has been forced to leave her own home.
Somi remains courageous despite going through these hardships and aims to rebuild her life. She wants to start earning, if given some job, although her foremost worry remains her safety amidst continuous life threats.