OUTLOOK — By Hanan Salim — One day I was going back home with a bitter feeling after hearing the sad story of the slain girl which became known to everyone in the locality. Perhaps it was the first love story that ended as a tragedy and widely discussed among the public. The girl tried to defend her right to marry the person of her choice and this brought her in a collision course with her family members who stubbornly denied her this simple right.
The struggle between the girl and her family complicated as both sides adamantly clinging to their attitudes until the girl was eventually murdered by the hand of her own brother. At home my mother told me another story no less heart-breaking than the first one. She gave me two caps and asked me to sell them to my colleagues at office.
“There is a sad story behind these caps,” she said with sorrow and asked: “Do you remember the 22-year-old girl who died of heart attack at the door of an old man from whom she borrowed some money to pay for the cost of eye surgery for her sister?”
“Yes, I do remember” I replied.
“Her sister was subjected to ill-treatment by her alcoholic brother who used to beat her and rob her of the little money she earned from selling the caps she made. This poor girl worked day and night to meet the cost of living; things got complicated as she worked day and night weakened her eyesight and she needed a surgical operation. Her late sister was the only person to stand by her in her dilemma; she borrowed money to pay the expense of her operation because her brother used to steal the money her sister saved for the operation. The poor girl endured constant abuse and beating inflicted on her by her brother.”
I recalled many stories of abuse and violence against girls but this one was the most saddening of all. After many years of abuse and bullying the poor girl made two failed attempts to take her own life but in the end died of cardiac arrest while returning the money she borrowed to pay for her sister’s operation.
The story looks like a figment of my imagination as a storywriter; but it is a real life story and its details are known to everyone who lives in our area.
It is but one of many stories of domestic violence and abuse inflicted on girls who have done no wrong except born as a girl. They just try to earn for an honourable life and nothing more.
I hope the Ministry of Social Development establish centres for the victims of domestic violence which can be their safe havens as their own homes are turned into places of torture and torment.