October 2nd, 2020

By Ahmad Saeed 



Shazia was baking rotis when her mother-in-law and brother-in-law sprinkled petrol on her and pushed her before a burning stove,” says Shazia’s visibly broken mother who tearfully narrates the harrowing tale of torture faced by her daughter by her in-laws in Sialkot on September 27.

They have burnt her beyond recognition,” Sughra says, tears rolling down her eyes. Shazia, a mother of six children, is now in critical condition at the Burn’s Unit of the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. Incidentally, her mother and her mother-in-law are sisters which makes her husband her first cousin. Shazia has become one of the thousands of women victims who have suffered from domestic abuse and torture in the country. In Shazia’s case, her children were in front of their mother when they saw her being attacked after a quarrel. They were residents of Sialkot but had to be taken to the hospital in Lahore. According to doctors, Shazia’s condition is critical with 90 percent burns.

On a fateful day, Shazia’s in-laws first beat her up, and then after some time when she went to cook rotis on the stove, they sprayed petrol on her and pushed her into the flames of the stove.

According to Shazia’s brother, her husband Rana Firoz often used to beat her whenever she demanded money for household expenses. A few months ago, Shazia had left her husband’s house to live with her parents.

“Shazia returned to her husband’s house after he came to us with his family and promised to treat her well and pay household expenses,” her brother said.

In her statement to police, Shazia said her in-laws did not take her to the hospital for four hours. In the period, the in-laws pressured Shazia to change her statement with the threat of taking away her children. Shazia’s mother tearfully regrets that Shazia on many occasions had returned to her parent’s house and they would send her back each time for the sake of her little children.

Police have arrested Shazia’s mother-in-law and father-in-law while the main suspect her brother-in-law has evaded arrest. Meanwhile, Rana Firoz had been working abroad at the time of the incident.

Like Shazia, thousands of women have faced domestic abuse and torture in the country but are forced to suffer in silence due to financial constraints and societal pressure. Lack of awareness about the laws on women’s protection prevents many abuse victims from seeking redress before it’s too late.