Karachi: 22-year-old domestic violence victim narrates her ordeal
KARACHI: “He gagged me, tied up my hands and legs and carried me on his shoulder to a deserted area far from the village at midnight. I was helpless. I couldn’t even cry for help. He attacked multiple times with a razor blade and left only after he was sure that I wouldn’t be able to stand on my feet now,” says 22-year-old Shrimati Lali Bai currently being looked after at the special ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
Resident of a small village (Chak No 3) in Sanghar, Lali Bai had been accused of having illicit relations with someone by her husband, Maroo, who cut off her nose, ears and chest apparently in a fit of rage. After inflicting serious injuries upon her, he went back home, strangled their 15-day-old baby and fled.
In the meantime, Lali Bai was able to regain strength and sought help from nearby residents but it took her elder brother-in-law at least seven to eight hours to shift her to the district tertiary care hospital where she received initial treatment.
Five days later, she was brought to Karachi after the news appeared in the media and an FIR of the incident was registered.
“He was not abusive in the initial years of our marriage and had started behaving violently since his sister got widowed a year ago. He was under her influence,” she tries to explain.
The couple’s two other children, two-year-old Puja and three-year-old Mukesh, were asleep while her in-laws were away at a party when all this happened. “I was shocked as I came to know about this incident and rushed to the hospital. I request to the government to kill the man who has subjected my daughter to brutality,” says Lali Bai’s mother Giani who along with her husband and a three-year-old daughter is
attending to her.
Giani has four daughters and three sons. “Lali is the only one who is married,” she says.
Maroo, according to the family, was addicted to drugs and out-of-work for a long time. The family was run by Lali. “Women don’t get paid for the work in the field instead they receive daily meal for the family from landlords. The same is true in my case. As for emergency needs, I got support from my in-laws. There is no other source of income,” says Lali Bai, whose travel expenses and admission to the JPMC has been borne by the government.
Speaking to Dawn at the hospital, Sanghar PPP (minority wing) president Manmohan Das says that Lali had to be shifted here because health facilities in the district are in a shambles. “The government district hospital is without staff and medical facilities,” he says, adding that patients have to travel long distances for life-saving treatment.
According to him, poverty and illiteracy are two major reasons for violence against women in rural areas.
Return to life
Dr Nasir Zaman Khan, professor and head of the department of plastic surgery, JPMC, says the long time taken in bringing Lali to the hospital has made the chances for any kind of immediate surgery impossible.
“The wounds are deep and she requires reconstructive surgeries. But operating on her right now will be disastrous as there is severe inflammation all over her body parts. We will do our job once this heals up, which might take three to four months,” he says while emphasising that such patients should be brought to hospital within 24 hours.
Asked if the delay in surgery will affect the quality of outcome, he replies in the negative explaining that the quality in fact will be ‘better’ in delayed surgery as the wounds will be healed by then. The cases of disfigurement, he says, are routinely treated at the JPMC where men, too, come with such injuries.
About Lali’s condition and current treatment, the doctor says she is anaemic maybe because of malnourishment or she has developed intestinal worms due to unhygienic conditions she has been living in. “Of the multiple surgeries she will have on her return, the one related to the ear is the most complicated.”
“She will not be completely the same as she was before though she will be much better than her present condition,” he explains.
A report compiled by Aurat Foundation says that 4,585 cases of violence against women have been reported between January and June this year across the country. Of them, 69 per cent have been reported in Punjab and 22 per cent (1,027 cases) in Sindh. Murder, which constitutes 15pc of the total cases of violence against women, is found to be the most prevalent crime against women reported from Sindh. A total of 436 cases of honour killings have been reported from across the country.
With doctors recommending her to wait for at least three months before a surgery, Lali Bai now faces a dilemma in her life; she can neither afford the expenses of prolonged stay at the special ward nor return to her village and face people with bandaged nose and ears. While government officials are claiming to provide support to her till her surgeries are done, there is uncertainty all along her way to a normal life.