Silent Sufferers

Sadaf Kashif
Posted March 19, 2016 from Pakistan

“Isn’t it strange? For no fault of mine, I was subjected to torture and lead a life of fear and neither I could unleash my potential nor could I pursue my dreams for a long time. Throughout my married life, I went through harassment and sufferings because of my husband's frustration stemmed from the poor educational background and impotence. Look at me! I am one of those, who survived and stood strong against all odds and rediscovered a new ‘I’.”

Shumaila, aged 24, was a bright, educated lady at the time of marriage. Though, Shumaila got married to a man who couldn’t even complete his college education. Their married life plunged further when post-marriage Shumaila came to know about her husband’s impotency. She couldn’t believe that for no fault of her all her dreams of becoming a mother are going to be shattered. Because of her husband's inability to consume a happy married life and educational mismatch; Shumaila’s husband started suffering from low self-esteem and gradually started abusing her physically and emotionally. Shumaila was in a state of shock and astonished when her family pressurized to compromise so that the marriage can be survived. Though Shumaila’s silence did not change the situation, rather the torture turned more violent. One day Shumaila’s husband sliced off her nose and strangled her by the belt. Shumaila was in unbearable pain and her husband ran away without paying any attention to her sufferings. After almost half an hour, her in-laws came to help her. Later on, police arrested Shumaila’s husband. Shumaila is now fighting for justice and said: “…Because of existing social system and lack of family support it is really difficult to get divorce and to punish the culprit who tortured me beyond anyone’s imagination”

Although divorce is still considered as a taboo and even now society tends to stigmatize divorced women, very recent; there is a rise in the divorce rate in Pakistan. So far no initiative has been taken by the government to collect necessary data related to divorce. A study conducted by Human Rights Watch in 2009 revealed that 70- 90 percent women face some form domestic violence in their lives. Hansar, Robert D. (2007) in his research "Cross-Cultural Examination of Domestic Violence in China and Pakistan" mentioned that nearly 5000 women are killed every year due to domestic violence, and there are thousands of cases where victims were so brutally tortured that they became maimed. Filing a divorce in Pakistan demands lots of courage as the woman everywhere need to face related questions and often subjected to scrutiny in every sphere of life. The situation becomes worse when the woman is financially dependent. Financial dependency often makes women more vulnerable and in the absence of proper safety net, they become dependent on their extended family. There are cases when post-divorce often their own families did not support their daughters. Against all these odds, it has been noticed that in the last two decades many of the Pakistani women expressed their willingness to get divorced. Domestic violence is a major reason for divorce though there are a growing number of cases where mental & sexual incompatibility, mismatch marriages etc. are also cited as the causes of divorce. Marriage can be termed as mismatched when man and woman are in an alliance despite having differences in social status, family background, educational level, cast, religious grounds and physical health.

Shumaila’s words echoed the voices of other Pakistani women who are also silent sufferers of mismatch marriages: “…My husband never endorsed me for my achievements. His reactions were very strange. He had no hesitation in insulting me in front of others. Initially, I thought that maybe my educational background is disturbing him, but once I got to know about medical reports related to impotency, the situation turned worse. Then onwards, he started blaming me for everything and was deriving satisfaction by physically abusing me...” Further Shumaila added: “As I am seeking a divorce from court citing impotence, my life is under threat as it will unfold related weaknesses of my husband and he might face problems in remarrying. I’ll not be surprised to be killed for the same or if out of anger they throw acid on my face”.

In a conservative society like Pakistan, sexual impotence is still a forbidden area to be discussed. The majority prefer not to discuss the topic and people who suffer from impotency they do not care to discuss the matter with a doctor. Psychologist Irshad Siraj while dealt with cases of sexual incompatibilities noticed … "For a man impotency is like a nightmare. A person with impotency loses his confidence, patience and normally become isolated."

The common behavior in such cases is that the ego and pride of a man of his masculinity become more important than seeking medical treatment to ensure a normal healthy life. As infertility is considered as a social stigma so men often turn hostile and have higher chances of committing suicide and to do physical harm to others.

In fear of losing their societal position parents of the grooms often put pressure on their daughter-in-laws, so that they do not reveal the truth. Hence, for women, the situation turns more critical with very little hope to lead a normal life. Families of the groom often prevent women from seeking legal help, as it may open up secrets that might create trouble for their sons’ remarriage.

Society should acknowledge the need of the hour and changing status of women. Now women are pursuing their education and more women are working. Empowerment of women certainly heralds a new dawn. Women in Pakistan are now in a better position to financially support themselves, which further enable them in realizing their rights and entitlements.

Mutual support and encouragement can be considered as one of the major pillars of a happy married life. Things have changed and women are now more vocal to lead a happy life. Parents should respect their daughters’ journey, their ambition and shouldn’t force them to go for marriages with higher chances of marital discord. Treat the daughters as hope for the future, in an equal world they have every right to lead a normal life, do not put them in situations those could jeopardize their lives.

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Mar 19, 2016
Mar 19, 2016

Domestic violence is a tool long used by men who feel threatened by an empowered and successful woman. They consider it their last tool to maintain a semblance of that male ego and pride, forgetting there is nothing to be proud of in the abuse of women. Cultural norms also mitigate this heinous practices on women. Mothers need to start standing up for their daughters and you are right, impotency in a man in a society that values kids is worst than death.

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 23, 2016
Mar 23, 2016

Dear Bella,

As we have the increasing opportunity to read each others' stories, to gather information together on every single detail of what is being done to hurt, to harm, to injure and all too often to kill women, we gain with such sad but determined hearts the strength and connections needed to end every type of violence being inflicted. Your story, as difficult as is is to know and as painful to feel each terrifying moment that Shumaila was forced to experience, becomes part of our collective strength in standing up to every single detail of control against women that we are becoming aware of together. Her story of escape and your descriptions in how escape becomes possible leave us with hope and direction for how best we continue, one woman at a time, more and more every day now finding ways to freedom and meeting other women waiting to embrace her and help keep her free.

Please consider reposting this in the Gender-based Violence Group, and joining us there.

In sisterhood,


Stephanie A
Mar 23, 2016
Mar 23, 2016

Hi Bella,

I find the story of Shumaila shocking, but all too familiar, as it echos the story of so many women around the world. How can anyone be expected to to stay married to someone, after they do something as awful as Shumaila's husband did to her? The urgency of this issue is so clear - not only to prevent it from happening in the first place, but also to protect Shumaila and other women from what she feels is the inevitability of death or acid in her face as a result of speaking up. 

The increased rate of divorce might be a sign of hope though, because women being willing to speak up about what they are going through is the first step. I can't imagine the type of courage that takes - to do so even under the threat of more violence or death. Thank you, Bella, for sharing Shumaila's story with us. It is a story that needs to be heard!



Sadaf Kashif
Mar 24, 2016
Mar 24, 2016

Dear Stephanie,

There is worrying and growing trend of acid throwing incidences, Child Marriage, voilance and other inhuman acts not only in Pakistan but in this region especially India, Pakistan, Srilanka and Afghanistan. These crimes against women are typically due to force marriage, trafficking and due to women empowerment. Although media is very active and highlights these issue but they after that they don't followup on the stories. There is a need of several campaigns to raise voices against these inhuman acts and crimes against women.

Sadaf Kashif
Mar 24, 2016
Mar 24, 2016

Dear Tam,

I am so proud to be the part of Worldpulse. I am confident that we all together can bring change in this world. This fellowship is motivating me everyday and I am sure that I will laundch a messavie campaign against these inhuman customs.

I will share my post.


Mar 25, 2016
Mar 25, 2016

English :


Thank you for having shared this Post about the wedding of Shemaiah and her disappointments. Indeed, marriage is a universal and subjective phenomenon; a kind of necessary evil for everyone and since all times. And it is not a coincidence that marriage has always inspired songs, poems, proverbs ... and has caused spend of much ink and saliva from immemorial time.

Below are some of the thoughts I emus concerning MARRIAGE. I hope they serve for some purpose.


The extremes are not good. Marriage should not happen too early or too late. Very often women who, from having very long spent their time studying complain about not find husbands; because of superiority complex. However, let me say that there is no age limit for marriage.



Despite secret marriage, we should not hide patent realities like human impotence. Like it or not , the ultimate goal of any wedding is to also enjoy free and consensual sex (between spouses of the opposite sex). The power or powerlessness of the spouse, this is what we must first and foremost seek to know during the engagement period. Discover it after marriage, it is a drama as this can induce a divorce; as in the case of Shemaiah.


Marriage should be a time of joy, fulfillment and accomplishment of the spouses; and our opportunity disappointments, frustrations and other sufferings. But it is not given immediately! The spouses must work hard for it.


By definition, marriage is union, a link between two different people, and often unknown to each other. Their differences may relate to levels of education, possession of property, characters, cultures, their customs ... It is for this reason that all over the world, marriage between brothers and sisters, cousins, is not accepted and is called "incest". People who manage to live together for a long time and to support other despite these differences together, these are the good and true spouses. Suspicions, the complex of inferiority or superiority, lies, prejudices towards each other, that's what we should avoid in marriage.

But more often women like "The Prince Delightful" that is to say husbands at once beautiful, rich, intelligent, highly educated, liberal, kind, nice, sufficiently educated, educated, ... In short, without flaws or shortcomings; angelic!


In marriage, in principle one is committed to a life term; with ups and downs, joys and sorrows. Without tolerance or compromise any marriage can’t survive beyond one year.


Unfortunately it happens that beyond their hopes, fall into the hands of violent men! Statistics of 5000 women killed or maimed in Pakistan because of the violence of their husbands and the Human Rights Watch study in 2009 are speaking.


The moment of engagement should be that of a careful and thoughtful observation of the intending spouses, and not that of fanaticism, dreams and blunders. This is the time to criticize at sabotage point, the article you want to buy in a store, though you love it with all her heart, in order to get the price reduction! It was during this time that we need to know if your partner is powerful or powerless. In some circles, they tolerate the test sex right in order to avoid surprises later. Unfortunately, we often say that LOVE IS BLIND and hang on to it!


There is no magic formula that can define what a happy marriage is. But generally weddings where the couple talk and laugh frankly; where sex is obtained at any time where the other partner needed it, where there are no fights at all times, where one lives in the minimum material conditions ease, where one was lucky to have had a more desired children that are educated and schooling, where one does not suffer from hereditary or endemic diseases ... This marriage is deemed happy. However, the role of marriage counselors and confidants is not negligible in this kind of marriage.


In any way, we should not invent a divorce; Divorce should be an exception and marriage rule. It is for this reason that all states of the world (not just Pakistan) delaying divorces pronounced verdicts; it is in order to obtain may be the reconciliation of the parties. States are based on the fact that the basic unit of human society is the family, marriage. This is also why the spouses families and even their communities, advise as to impose no point divorce! DIVORCE MUST BE AN EXCEPTION AND THE RULE THE MARRIAGE


The role of women's rights activists is that we encourage divorces. I say conscience and knowingly. It is true that in some cases of extreme domestic violence, the abused woman or man should be able to break free; because nothing beats the freedom and physical integrity. Once again: DIVORCE MUST BE AN EXCEPTION AND THE RULE THE MARRIAGE


Marriage remains free and should be a voluntary by and for future joint elections. There should no way result nor of the will of the parents, or that of the community or even states. Parents should therefore not interfere in the choice of accompanying their children to the point of jeopardizing their future lives. It is rightly Shemaiah seems to put on the back of his parents: the impotence of his spouse and his violence towards her!

Once again, thank you for BEE BELLA we have shared the story of Shemaiah.

Good day to you.



Bonjour BELLA BEE.

Merci de nous avoir partagé ce post concernant le mariage de Shemaiah et les déceptions qu’elle a dû en tirer. En effet, le mariage est un phénomène universel et subjectif ; une sorte de mal nécessaire pour tout le monde et de tous les temps, avec tout ce qu’on y découvre de merveilleux comme de désastreux ! Et ce n’est pas par hasard que le mariage a toujours inspiré des chansons, poèmes, adages… et qu’il a fait couler beaucoup d’encre et de salive depuis les temps immémoriaux.

Ci-dessous quelques-unes des réflexions que j’émeus concernant le MARIAGE. J’espère qu’elles serviront à quelque chose.


Les extrêmes ne sont pas bons. Le mariage ne doit advenir ni trop tôt ni trop tard. Très souvent les femmes qui, du fait d’avoir très longtemps passé leur temps aux études se plaignent de ne plus trouver des maris ; parce ces derniers ne peuvent plus les aborder du fait de leurs complexes de supériorité. Cela étant, disons qu’il n’y a pas d’Age limite pour le mariage.


Au nom su secret du mariage, l’on ne doit pas cacher des réalités patentes comme l’impuissance sexuelle de l’homme. Qu’on le dise ou ne le dise, le but ultime et l’objectif de tout mariage c’est de jouir aussi et librement des rapports sexuels consentis (entre époux de sexes opposés). La puissance ou l’impuissance du conjoint, voilà ce qu’on doit d’abord et avant tout chercher à connaitre pendant la période des fiançailles. Le découvrir après le mariage, c’est un drame car cela peut induire le divorce ; comme dans le cas de Shemaiah.


Le mariage devrait être le moment de joie, d’épanouissement et d’accomplissement des époux ; et nos l’occasion des déceptions, frustrations et autres souffrances. Mais ce n’est donnée d’emblée ! Les époux doivent y travailler et s’appliquer.


Par définition, le mariage est union, un lien entre deux personnes différentes, et souvent inconnues l’une de l’autre. Leurs différences peuvent porter notamment sur les niveaux d’études, de possession des biens, des caractères, des cultures, de leurs us et coutumes…C’est d’ailleurs pour cette raison que partout au monde, le mariage entre frères et sœurs, cousins et cousines, n’est pas accepté et est qualifié « d’inceste ». Les personnes qui réussissent à vivre ensemble pendant longtemps et à se supporter les unes les autres malgré ces différences, voilà les bons et vrais conjoints. Les suspicions, les complexes d’infériorité ou de supériorité, les mensonges, les préjugés l’une envers l’autre, voilà ce que l’on devrait éviter dans le mariage.

Mais le plus souvent les  femmes aiment épouser « Des Prince Charmants » c’est-à-dire des maris à la fois beaux, riches, intelligents, hautement diplômés, libéraux, gentils, jolis, suffisamment instruits, éduqués,…Bref, sans défauts ni insuffisances ; angéliques !


Dans le mariage, en principe l’on est sensé s’engage pour une durée  plutôt viagère ; comportant des hauts et des bas, des joies et des peines. Sans tolérance ni compromis aucun mariage ne saurait survivre même au-delà d’une année.


Il arrive malheureusement qu’au-delà de ses espérances, l’on tombe entre les mains d’un home violent ! Ou d’une femme violente. Mais le plus souvent ce sont les hommes qui sont violents. La statistique de 5000 femmes tuées ou rendues infirmes au Pakistan du fait des violences de leurs époux et l’étude de Human Rights Watch en 2009 sont parlant.


Le moment des fiançailles devrait être celui d’une observation minutieuse et réfléchie des futurs époux, et non celui de fanatisme, de rêveries et d’étourderies. C’est le moment de critiquer au point de sabotage, l’article qu’on veut acheter dans un magasin, alors qu’on l’aime de tout son cœur, afin d’en obtenir la réduction du prix ! C’est pendant ce moment qu’on doit savoir si son partenaire est puissant ou impuissant. Dans certains milieux, l’on tolère les relations sexuelles d’essai en ce moment afin d’éviter des surprises plus tard. Malheureusement l’on dit souvent que L’AMOUR EST AVEUGLE et on s’y accroche !


Il n’existe pas de recette magique pouvant définir ce qu’un mariage heureux. Mais généralement les mariages où les époux se parlent et rient franchement ; où l’acte sexuel est obtenu à tout moment où l’autre partenaire  en a besoin, où il n’y a pas des bagarres à tout moment, où l’on vit dans les conditions matérielles minimales d’aisance, où l’on a eu la chance d’avoir eu un plusieurs enfants désirés que l’on éduque et scolarise, où l’on ne souffre pas de maladies héréditaires ou endémiques…Ce mariage est réputé heureux. Cela étant, le rôle des conseillers et confidents conjugaux n’est pas négligeable dans ce genre de mariage.


En aucune manière, l’on ne devrait pas venter un divorce ; le divorce doit être une exception et le mariage, la règle. C’est pour cette raison que tous les Etats du monde (et pas seulement le Pakistan) retardent  les prononcés des verdicts de divorces ; c’est dans la but d’obtenir peut être la réconciliation des époux. Les Etats se fondent sur le fait que la cellule de base de toute société humaine c’est la famille, le mariage. C’est pour cela également que les familles d’époux, et même leurs communautés, les conseillent au point de s’imposer à ne points divorcer ! LE DIVORCE DOIT ETRE UNE EXCEPTION ET LE MARIAGE LA REGLE


Le rôle d’activistes des droits de femmes que nous sommes n’est d’encourager les divorces. Je le dis en âme et conscience et en toute connaissance de cause. Il est vrai que dans certains cas d’extrêmes violences conjugales, la femme ou l’homme violenté doivent pouvoir se libérer ; car rien ne vaut sa liberté et son intégrité physique. Une fois de plus : LE DIVORCE DOIT ETRE UNE EXCEPTION ET LE MARIAGE LA REGLE


Le mariage demeure libre et doit faire l’objet d’un choix librement consenti par et pour les futurs conjoints. Il ne doit d’aucun manière résulter ni de la volonté des parents, ni celle de la communauté ni même d’Etats. Les parents ne doivent donc pas interférer dans le choix des joints de leurs enfants, au point de compromettre leurs vies futures. C’est à juste titre que Shemaiah semble mettre sur les dos de ses parents : l’impuissance de son conjoint et sa violence envers elle !

Une fois de plus, merci BELLA BEE pour nous avoir partagé l’histoire de Shemaiah.

Bonne journée à vous.

Mar 26, 2016
Mar 26, 2016

Hello Bella,

First of all, I would like to commend you on such an eye-grabbing post! I was scrolling down the list of new posts and was completely fascinated with your title 'Silent Sufferers' and the concomitant evocative, powerful image. 

It was extremely heartbreaking to read about Shumaila's experiences and witness the horrible consequences silence can have. Ironically, silence can be beautiful, and on the other hand, tortuous. In this case, it took a severe toll on Shumaila's self-esteem, self-confidence and mental and physical states. The atrocity of domestic violence is all too unbearable to hear about, but stories like these need to be broadcasted and popularized in order for action to be taken. Voices need to be heard. Unfortunately, for many women and girls, those voices may just be a step towards even greater danger, just as Shumaila said she would "not be surprised to be killed for the same or if out of anger they throw acid on [her] face”. 

The ignorance that is faced by these violations of human rights and freedoms is shocking. There need to be individuals who can safely stand up and take action to fill the voids and cracks for those who cannot stand up for themselves. The assailing acid attacks, especially, are lethal and disfigurtive, maiming every victim and perpetuating violence around the world. 

We should all be treated as equals, blossoming with every opportunity. It is completely unjust that one may be discriminated or feel unsafe in their own home, body or country simply due to one's sex. I commend any efforts that have been undertaken, especially by the media, to publicize these injustices that are still taking place in the world. However, there is still much more that we, as a global society, must do to ensure happiness for women and girls. We all deserve a chance at happiness - a chance at life.

Thank you for the lovely, empowering post! 

With kindest regards,

Helen Ng

Carolyn Seaman
Mar 28, 2016
Mar 28, 2016

Dear Bella,

Thank you for sharing this. It just strikes me that the women are the ones who suffer the consequences of all these sensitive issues that society calls 'no go areas'. The men use it to perpetuate violence and abuse against women yet, they go unpunished. This impunity is the major reason why we are taking so long to address issues of domestic violence and other gender-based violence against women and girls. It's a truly sad situation.

Warm regards,