On 15 July 2021, Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch, mother of four young kids, was allegedly tortured and murdered by her husband, Umer Khalid Memon, in Barrage Colony, Hyderabad, Sindh.
In less than a day, Twitter was trending with the hashtag ‘JusticeForQuratulAin’, demanding for her abuser and murderer to be arrested. Although Umer Khalid Memon is in custody, and the investigation is currently in process, the real culprit still walks free: society.
According to the postmortem report shown below, Qurat-ul-Ain alias Aini’s body was covered with torture marks.
On Twitter, the victim’s sister states that her sister was suffered from repeated acts of torture and abuse inflicted by her husband in their house. She also claimed in a Tweet that her sister was beaten severely and left to her death by her husband in front of her children.
“My sister Qurat-ul-Ain was murdered by her husband Umer Khalid on 15th July 2021, leaving her four young kids behind,” said a user Zehra, whose identification is not verified. “The police are protecting him because he belongs to an influential family. Help us get Justice for Ainy.”
There are many screenshots shared by the victim’s family showing her conversations where she repeatedly mentions being a victim of domestic violence. In the last few messages she also lets her sister know that if “she is found dead, Umer has killed her”.
Domestic violence is prevalent in Pakistan, and murder cases like Qurat-Al-Ain are reported very often. However, all domestic violence cases take the same path; the victim dies and the internet is filled with outraged angry people asking for justice. The main question is, where is this justice when the victims are still breathing and telling people about their abuse, but still left to be victimized and beaten daily in their own homes.
As a society, we all are responsible for creating an environment and culture that allows women to be repeatedly abused and still not get a way out of their houses. In Pakistan, there are many Qurat-ul-Ains who face violence every day and are vulnerable to domestic abuse as they are not provided with the privilege of leaving their marriages or household. This includes the privilege of having financial independence and affordable living. Another factor is the stigma attached to divorced women, and how women are perceived as the ‘good ones’ if they stay quiet, and endure the abuse inside their house.
A survey carried out by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Pakistan as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women. As a society, Pakistanis still need to grow and unlearn the trivialization of a women’s abuse, and not make any space for the violence to be justified. In recent news, a domestic bill was rejected and referred back to the same group of people who have previously agreed that women are allowed to be ‘hit by a feather’ in religion.
Qurat-ul-Ain’s abuse was prologued, and known to her family members, yet she was not provided safety or release from her house. This case is a prime example for all the women who are forced to live with their abuser for the sake of their children and the backlash from society.
We must ask ourselves and continue to demand justice and proper shelters and safe havens for women suffering from domestic violence, so they can have a way out. If people don’t point out the severity of domestic violence and its impact, the culture will continue to dismiss acts of violence by men and not involve themselves in other ‘Ghar ka mamla’s.
Children also suffer the greatest consequences due to violence against women. Witnessing domestic violence can lead children to form an array of age-dependent negative effects, and psychologically impacts them for life. They not only see the abuse but either learn, imitate, or get heavily influenced by it. A study conducted by Melissa Stiles on the impact of children seeing domestic violence reveals that children can potentially show disturbed attachment style patterns, poor sleeping habits, eating problems, anxiety, and show severe forms of aggressive or regressive behavior. Domestic violence does not only affect the women but changes the family members present in the house.
Every day we hear of another Qurat-ul-Ain and children who suffer due to domestic violence. It is due to society’s negligence of victims, and the perception of women in society, the acts continue to defend and save the abuser, while blaming and dismissing the victims. For this chain of violence to end, as a society, we need to focus on providing for the victims with proper laws and refuge and eliminate all ideas in our culture that support domestic abusers.
No man has the right to hit his wife, or children. No woman who leaves her marriage is ‘bad’. Once we change the way we see and treat victims, and perpetrators, this chain can be broken and properly dealt with.