Savage Violence on Honey, an agony of converted family in Karachi. By Dr. Stephen Gill. Canada


Some of her bones have been broken and her nose, breasts and genitals have been bitten because she refused to be converted to the religion of her husband. When the neighbours moved her to a hospital, still bleeding in her unconscious state, her broth

Dr. Fazia, the medical examiner of the hospital told the Daily Naya Akhbar of February 21, 2005 that in her professional career she had never come across such extreme violence to a woman. Honey suffered these savageries because she refused to accept the religion of her husband. The news was carried also in Daily Times of February 22, 2005. Honey, a Christian from Karachi, Pakistan, married Faisal Raees, a Muslim, against the wishes of her parents. She ran away from her home to marry the man of her dreams. But the dream began to fade slowly when Faisal began to put pressure on her to become a Muslim. This pressure began to mount, reaching its peak on February 20 when her elder brother Richard came to see her. When he resisted cruelty to her younger sister, Faisal hit him and then put a gun to his head, threatening to kill him if he moved. He bound him with a rope. After that he took an iron rod and began to beat Honey, his wife. He removed her clothes in front of her brother. He also bit her nose, breasts and genitals. With a rod, he broke some of her bones and teeth. She lost consciousness. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in a hospital. The neighbors told the same newspaper that they heard the heart-rending cries of Honey, but they were afraid to enter her house. When they did, they saw that her husband was hitting her with an iron-rod while she was lying on the floor covered with blood, and naked. As her husband saw the neighbours, he ran away. They covered her with a bed sheet and then moved her to the Civil Hospital. Her husband tried to enter the ward of the hospital where she was kept for medical care. The timely actions of the hospital authorities prevented further violence on her. The medical doctor who cared her at the hospital told the same newspaper that Honey was not yet out of danger and if she survived she may not be able to conceive because of the violence on her private parts. Whenever she opened her eyes, the whole hospital shaked with her cries of physical and emotional pains. Meanwhile, the entire family is hiding in a small house of their relatives, and the alleged culprit is free. Churches and other Christians are afraid of helping them for fear of being targets. Police have not even registered a case against him. Masood, an uncle of Honey, has telephoned major daily newspapers in Pakistan to cover the tragedy, but they did not have time to listen to him. The government authorities are indifferent to the case. He has been constantly on the phone to prevent additional tragedies to the family. He has not been able to find any office, active or inactive, of human rights in Karachi. He has telephoned everywhere he could to try to find a ray of hope. So far, he is out of luck in spite of the time and money he has spent on phone calls to several places in Pakistan and Canada. Masood says that his relatives blame him for their sufferings. This is the latest in the series of their sufferings. The father of Masood, an officer in the military, was Muslim and his mother was Christian. Masood was the first to become Christian in his family. After him, other members became Christian and that opened a pandora's box for them. They lost their decent jobs because of their religious affiliations. Those who looked for jobs were not successful. Honey, a daughter of Masood's brother, fell in love with Faisal Raees, a Muslim from Karachi whom she married in spite of the strong opposition from her parents. Though Honey married the man of her choice against the wishes of her parents, she did not sever her ties completely with her parents and relatives. Faisal, her husband, who wanted her to accept Islam, did not want her to have any contact with Christians. This is not what he had told her before their marriage. Honey, a Christian, seems to be a visionary because she accepted to be the wife of a Muslim. This was following in the tradition of her grandmother, Masood's mother, who remained Christian even when she was the wife of a Muslim. However, Masood's parents were the product of the British era. The father of Masood left his wife and children to raise another family with a Muslim woman. Massod and his mother came to Canada. Honey seems to have seen the man she wanted to marry through a rainbow of love that was based on the pillars of tolerance and is the mystery of coexistence. That love runs in the veins of live and let live. This philosophy embodies the prismatic colour of the ray that is the centre of any religion. This appears to be the ray that she perceived in her ties with the man of her vision. But that vision turned into ashes in the fire of fanaticism. She appears to be an idealist that does not have a chapter in the book of the Pakistan of today. Honey is not alone in this saga. One name that is worth quoting from the long list of the saga is Nora (not her real name). Another is Gulnar who received a treatment from extremists that may shock any civilized human, and a young girl, SK , who is still in hiding, vegetating in Pakistan. The list can go on. Masood's mother did not go through atrocities because of the different situation in the country in those early days in the life of Pakistan. Moreover, her husband held an officer's status in the military and being a nurse herself she was financially independent, which makes a huge difference. She remained a good Christian and also a good Pakistani. She died in Canada in 2003. Masood took her dead body to Pakistan to bury her there according to her wishes. In spite of a discriminatory climate in Pakistan, she loved the country. Masood says that Pakistan was partially created also by Christians, who also voted for its creation and sacrificed their lives to defend its safety whenever it was challenged. Christians in Pakistan have not come from outside. They are real inhabitants of that area. But the climate of discrimination has suffocated their day-to- day life. The suffocation is the outcome of the blasphemy laws that were introduced by Zia-ul-Haq. These laws have been fomenting violence in the country. Women from minority groups suffer the most because of the marginal status that these laws give to their religion and gender. In case of Honey, she is lucky in a way because she has an uncle in Canada who is doing everything possible to help her and her family. There have been victims who have not been so lucky. They lived in remote areas of Pakistan where there was no ready help available. Moreover, they did not know English, and so could not communicate with foreigners. Some of them surrendered because they could not confront the onslaught of the waves of extremism, not knowing that their surrender would weave more tangled webs. Masood works with a penitentiary, and also runs an Indo/Pakistan restaurant. He and his wife June are active with their Anglican Church. Both are also founding members of an organization of South Asian Christians. The main worry of Masood is the safety of the parents, brothers and sisters of Honey. They have been repeatedly threatened by the alleged perpetrator who has been moving around still as a free bird. Masood wants to get them to a safer place, but he finds no way in spite of the time and money that he has been spending. These worries are affecting his own work. What can he do to help Honey, her parents and brothers and sisters, is a question that he asks everyone? Savage violence on Honey is the violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Universal Declaration clearly states that "this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief." If God is love as religions proclaim and if love is peace or if love and peace are the attributes of God, than why two young souls in love cannot enjoy this bliss without any pressure from the laws from any side and without the pressure from society? After all they were together in the initial stage of their love. Why this relationship changes into the urge for the complete possession of the spouse? This sense of possession has and is still destroying families. The ideal way to have peace is to follow the golden rule of live and let live. The Council of Vatican 11 and the United Nations in its Declaration of Human Rights embody this principal when they acknowledge the right of every adult to follow their conscience in the matter of religion. Pakistan is a signatory of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Pakistan has also signed conventions and treaties of this nature with the international community. It is a moral obligation of every signatory to honor their agreements. Governments are made of citizens who hand over their sovereignty to their governments through their elected representatives. Therefore it is obligatory for every citizen to honor every agreement that their representatives sign. Those agreements become useless to be thrown into the waste paper baskets if every signatory will start dishonouring them. This will not make the world a better place of peace and order.

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