Story of an 11 year old, married, girl
It is not common for women of the mountainous Gilgit- Baltistan to raise voice against violence, inhuman treatment and other injustices. Wives take tolerance of marital torture as part of their fate and those who come out victor, in “bardasht”, are usually dubbed as models of modesty, patience and loyalty. Not so in the case of an 11 year old, married, girl. She reached the Chief Court Gilgit, seeking justice.
She told the court that her mother had sold her for 10, 000 to a man called Noor Mohammad, of Jaglote – Gilgit. She told the court that there are signs of torture on her body; her nails have been pulled, her teeth broken and she has repeatedly been subjected to physical and mental torture. She also alleged that her husband is demanding rupees 60, 000, when she demands a divorce.
The court ordered the police to lodge a case against the accused and his family, who have disappeared, the police reports. Meanwhile the girl has been kept with a respectable family of the city, as there are no shelter homes for women in Gilgit. The judge has also observed that there has been a rise in such cases in Gigit – Baltistan, pointing towards construction of a shelter home.
This eleven year old girl doesn’t seem to have learnt the ‘art of patience’ that other women of the region have mastered. That she broke hundreds of taboos by reaching the court, defying laws of the jungle, stands out as an example of struggle for an individual’s right of dignified living.
The girl has shown great trust in the institutions of justice and it is now the court’s responsibility to ensure that justice is delivered. The verdict is going to be very significant because it will open, or close, ways for the tormented, oppressed and the suppressed women of our societies in Gilgit – Baltistan.
It is also important to understand that violence against women is not restricted to a specific region within Gilgit – Baltistan. More than 114 cases of suicide took place in Ghizar district, during the past three or four years. Suicides also take place in Hunza and Gojal, Nagar, Diamir, Astore and Baltistan.
Also, not all victimized women commit suicide. Many live tens of years, tolerating torture and oppression. Only a few have the courage to challenge their tormentors. But reaching a court in pursuit of justice is a rare incident in our part of the world, that needs to be remembered and followed, if necessary, by the oppressed.
Silence is tantamount to acceptance of the torture and suicide is, surely, the worst choice that our sisters, daughters or mothers can make.