A teenage Pakistani woman Monday told of her terror as her husband chopped off her nose and lips in a furious marital row, and threatened to kill herself unless the police brought him to justice.
The horrifying case underscores the brutal violence suffered by some women in Pakistan, where a domestic violence bill lapsed in 2009 after being held up in the Senate due to objections from religious parties.
Salma Bibi, 17, said her husband, 22-year-old Ghulam Qadir, subjected her to a beating, then bound her hands and feet with rope and hacked into her face with a razor in a remote village in the southwestern province Baluchistan.
“He repeatedly slapped my face and then went into the room and brought with him a locally made, sharp razor,” she told AFP, speaking Baluchi in remarks translated by her uncle from a hospital bed in central Multan city.
“I started shouting in panic. He tied my hands and foot with a rope and chopped off my nose and lips,” she added.
The teenager said police refused to register a case when her family complained about the attack, and threatened to kill herself without justice.
“I want justice and if it is not delivered to me, I will immolate myself in front of the Supreme Court.
“I will not sit in peace until my husband is brought to justice and gets punishment for the crime he committed,” she added.
Ghulam and Salma married last year and live in the village of Karkana, 475 kilometres (300 miles) southwest of Islamabad.
Local officials insisted they were searching for Ghulam and would arrest him when caught.
“They often had quarrels as the girl used to spend more time with her parents,” said Nadir Khan, an administration official in Musa Khel district, part of violence-torn Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has demanded action in the case, but many cases of violence against women in Pakistan go unpunished.
Human rights groups say Pakistani women suffer severe discrimination and widespread domestic violence, including so-called “honour” killings when a victim is murdered for allegedly bringing dishonour on her family.
Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP that domestic violence is a “serious, endemic problem in Pakistan” and called on the government to revive efforts to outlaw domestic violence.
But he praised the current parliament for a “fairly impressive” record on passing other legislation designed to protect women’s rights.
A recent law against sexual harassment, for example, is “some of the most progressive and cutting edge in the region,” he said.
[Image via Oxfam International on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]