The Frontline of My Life

Sadaf Kashif
Posted February 28, 2016 from Pakistan

“13 May, 2011, the day started with pleasant morning but becomes the darkest day of my life when my Fourteen years old daughter was killed by her father,” said Zeib-Ul-Nisa (Pseudonyms) from Southern Punjab, Pakistan.

Although women in Pakistan face social and economic desecration at all levels but gender discrimination, inhuman customs and honor killing are the challenges those are worst and demolishing their basic rights. Behavioral change is a basic obstacle that needs to be addressed for giving ideal society and environment to our girls. My pain point is early child marriage and inhuman customs against women that I want to solve by promoting education. My struggle to fight against child marriage was being motivated by the story of Shazia when I visited Southern Punjab to monitor flood affected areas.

Zeib-Ul-Nisa, Mother of three daughters and a son, belongs to a family where irrelevant cultural ethos and norms are deep rooted. Although throughout Pakistan, family honor has been associated with girls but in most patriarchal societies of the country people are benefiting themselves by slaughtering their girls in the name of “Family Honor”. Zeib-Ul-Nisas’ 14 years old daughter “Shazia” is among those girls who have been punished for demolishing the honor of family.

Shazia preferred to continue her studies instead of being married with an old man and this was one of the worst crime she ever committed in her ten years journey. Zeib-Ul-Nisa wants to save her daughter as she was also the victim of child marriage but she was helpless and couldn’t save the life of her innocent daughter due to the family pressure. Her daughter was being raped by her grandfather who went on to repeat this crime many times.

“My innocent daughter was suffering from sexual abuse. I was feeling her pain. I talked to her father; he brutally tortured me and asked to shut my mouth as this was the matter of family honor. My daughter was dreaming to serve her village by earning the degree of MBBS but her own father slaughtered her over adultery charges,” Zeib-Ul-Nisa told.

Her story was shocking for me and I was thinking that how a fourteen years old girl can dishonor her family and commit adultery while being raped by her grandfather? In small villages of Pakistan almost 65 per cent girls are being married in the age of 14 that ruin their dreams whatsoever they have. They lose their basic rights to education, health and opportunities. They just serve their husband and in-laws and become mothers. To prevent child marriage I am ensuring that majority of girls and women even they are married have opportunities and access to education as lack of awareness and absence of education are the obstacles those needs attention.

Comments 7

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Emily Miki
Feb 29, 2016
Feb 29, 2016

Jesus Christ! Oh my good God. This story is at the peak of child right violation and violation of the right of the girl child not to mention GBV. Bella are you working in partnership with any Human Rights organ? Cause I believe you need to knock at the doors of Human Rights agencies so you can add weight to your work back there in Pakistan. Pls can I publish your story on my blog? What are their peace-keeping forces doing about this? Or are they supporting it? I just have too many questions.

Sadaf Kashif
Feb 29, 2016
Feb 29, 2016

Dear Emilia,

Nice to hear from your side. Well I am working with United Nation and mostly don't have much time to interact with other local organizations. I am planning now to work with other local Human Right organizations. 

Well regarding posting my story on your blog, I don't have any objection but I don't know the policy of VOF. If you wanna post you can check with VOF.

Regards

GetRude
Feb 29, 2016
Feb 29, 2016

My goodness. You have just opened up the world of double standards used against many women in various contexts and countries, and the issue of child marriages is a sticky thorn in our midst. Well done for seeking to educate your fellow country women. You can also consider engaging women activists and organisations in your country to rally against child marriages and the abuse of women. In Zimbabwe they recently passed a law against child marriages. It was a battle that had been on for a while with women groups lobbying for a law to be passed. It took some time but now its there. You can never under estimate the power of grass roots women like yourself. All the best in this journey you have embarked on.

GetRude

Carolyn Seaman
Feb 29, 2016
Feb 29, 2016

Wow! Your story is something else!

First, Thank you for sharing such horrors in your community Bella. And well done on the great work you are doing to intervene and profer solutions.

Early child marriage is a serious issue in my country too. And it also forms the frontline of my life. But, early marriage in Nigeria affects girls empowerment where it truncates girls education and limits their chances of a good livelihood in the future or the girls encounter complications from early child birth which leaves them battling vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF). UNFPA reports that about 800,000 women suffer from VVF in Nigeria

However, I see different dynamics playing out in your country. I actually only recently understood the concept of honour killing of girls in your country after I watched the trailer of a recent documentary about honor killings in Pakistan. This is an extremely insane and harmful cultural practice that must be ended in Pakistan and I wish you success in your work addressing the issue. I look forward to working with you to support your work through film.

Once again, thank you for sharing your story.

Carolyn

Sadaf Kashif
Feb 29, 2016
Feb 29, 2016

Dear Carolyn,

Actually child marriage in Pakistan is connected with traditions, customs and Monetary practices. Sometimes child is married in the early age in exchange of money, sometimes to settle debt of family or in some cases as a bribe.

According to Pakistan’s Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929 sets the legal age for marriage to 16 for women and 18 for men. There are no ammendments in law up till now. Few legislations were proposed to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girl but no such visible improvements.

Thank you so much for offering your support for Documentary film. I am looking forward for your support.

Best Regards

Carolyn Seaman
Mar 06, 2016
Mar 06, 2016

I totally agree with you because child marriage basically plays out under the same circumstances and because of the same reasons you have enumerated. But, it's so unfair that children's future are limited to such ridiculous customs and selfish interests. 

In some parts of Nigeria today, we have alarming numbers of young women divorced and battling with extreme poverty because they were married as little girls and had no education or other form of empowerment to sustain them even after their divorce. So they just return to their family homes and wait for another man to marry them (hopefully). 

Civil Society and other concerned citizens have challenged the Nigerian laws as to the legal age of marriage in Nigeria which was not expressly stated as 18years but only interpreted as such. However, the recent Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015 helps to address that and other issues affecting women. 

In any case, it would still require public cooperation and an increased sensitivity to children's rights and needs to rise above child marriage in Nigeria and all over the world. 

Sharing our mutual challenges has interestingly strengthened us to do more in our individual communities. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to what we can do together.

Warm regards,

ARREY- ECHI
Mar 11, 2016
Mar 11, 2016

Wow, I have read about honour killings but reading your story was like watching a horror movie scene being played repeatedly. Woman thy name is woe! Societies continue to make all the daughters of Eve appear like tools to be used any how. Raped by grandfather and killed by father! What does a 14 year old who only dreams of a better life know about adultery? Sometimes I truly wonder which committee of insane men come up with such barbaric customs in the name of culture. My thoughts and support with you as you carry on this challenging role of educating the masses. Arrey