Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I wish no other woman in the world faces such a situation.”

A first person's account from yesterdays paper.

I was married to Basim ....four years ago. As soon as I went to my in-laws house...my in-laws began torturing me saying that my family did not offer them enough dowry.
“My worst days began right after my marriage as my poor parents, who have seven daughters to marry off, could not offer my in-laws a color television and 60,000 rupees (about $950 US) in cash as demanded by them. They often resorted to excessive mental and physical torture for the same reason.

After their torture crossed all limits last year, I filed a complaint with the police with the help of my parents, which brought a brief pause to my suffering as police made them (my in-laws) sign a paper saying they would not beat me up anymore. However, this was just the beginning of my worst nightmare.

Only after a few weeks, blaming my parents for taking the case to the police, my in-laws quarreled with them and barred me from visiting or contacting them. Taking advantage of this, my husband, mother in-law and sister in-law then resumed the brutal torture.

Neither was I given sufficient food nor was there environment for sound sleep any single night. Whenever they used to beat me up mercilessly in front of my two and half year old daughter Samarin and three month old son Samar, they too used to cry.
There was no option but to wait hoping that the almighty would help me someday. However, it never happened.

On the morning of November 6, the clock had already struck 10 and I and my children were not given any food to eat. “I would rather go to my maternal home if you don't give me food,” I told my in-laws and tried to go but was stopped by my mother in-law and sister in-law. And then they turned into complete fiends and tortured me.

First, they grabbed me, snatched my shawl and squashed it into my mouth. Then they poured kerosene from over my head. They also dipped a handkerchief into the kerosene and tied it around my neck. The two, along with my husband, then pushed me into a nearby latrine and set me on fire.

When I began shouting out in despair as the fire engulfed my whole body, neighbors turned up at the scene and doused it. By that time, the fire had already burnt half my body. However, the helpless locals only requested the culprits to take me to hospital and left me alone at my in-laws mercy.

As I was crying my lungs out due to the burning scars, my in-laws kept watching. “We didn't do this to take you to hospital,” they said.However, neighbors later took me out of the toilet. But this time, bowing down to their requests, my in-laws agreed to take me to hospital, but on one condition. They forced me to swear that I would tell others I had attempted suicide. If I hadn't promised them that, they might have killed me.
Now I am treating my wounds here in Banke Hospital but the scars are sure to remain forever. I can't even sit and sleep due to the wounds.

I heard that the perpetrators are in police custody now, but I want more than stringent action against them. How will I bring up my kids? I wish no other woman in the world faces such a situation.”

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