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Pakistan: Another woman killer set free

Women are angry. Men will witness

Wednesday 28 July 2021, by siawi3

Source: https://images.dawn.com/news/1188087/celebrities-demand-answers-from-the-govt-after-khadija-siddiqis-attacker-released-early-from-jail

Celebrities demand answers from the govt after Khadija Siddiqi’s attacker released early from jail

Published 27.07.21 about 22 hours ago

Images Staff

Desk Report

Shah Hussain — who stabbed Siddiqi 23 times — was released after serving just 3.5 years of his five-year sentence.

Mere days after the gruesome murder of Noor Mukadam caused an uproar on social media against the state’s failure to protect women, shock and disbelief spread amongst netizens once again after lawyer Khadija Siddiqi’s attacker was granted an early release from jail.

Shah Hussain, the son of a senior Lahore High Court lawyer, was found guilty of stabbing Siddiqi 23 times with a knife and sentenced to five years in jail. However, last week he managed to secure an early release after serving only three and a half years of his original sentence.

Many people took to social media to question Hussain’s early release. Siddiqi herself posted on Twitter to demand an explanation from Punjab Prisons Minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan.

According to a statement given later by Chohan, Hussain did not receive any relief in the form of legal remission from any official such as the president, the prime minister or the chief minister. Instead he availed “technical remissions”, which are granted for good conduct and blood donations.

Actors, filmmakers and other public figures also demanded answers regarding Hussain’s release and expressed their anger at the turn of events.

Jibran Nasir

Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir tweeted in support of Siddiqi and asked the government to give clarifications on the matter.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy shared Siddiqi’s tweet on her Instagram and asked why the authorities were not responding to Siddiqi’s concerns about her attacker being released early. “He stabbed her 23 times,” she wrote. “Why is he out of jail early? Why don’t you respond?”

Osman Khalid Butt

Actor Osman Khalid Butt posted on Twitter and said, “While the official news (the thoroughness, specifically) regarding Noor’s case is encouraging, there is only so much hope we can muster when the state and the judiciary continue to fail the women of our country.”The most recent — and shocking — example of this is Shah Hussain," Butt emphasised.

Zara Tareen

Actor Zara Tareen also shared the news about Hussein’s early release and posted, “At this point the hashtag should just be #JusticeFor _______ (insert any woman’s name)”

Mahira Khan

Superstar actor Mahira Khan expressed her outrage and demanded an explanation from the government for Hussain’s early release.

Mariyam Nafees

Actor Mariyam Nafees shared Siddiqi’s post on Hussain’s release and questioned the government on the decision as well.

Nadia Jamil

Actor and cancer activist Nadia Jamil called the move “unethical and illegal” and asked the government not to allow convicted abusers and murderers to be set free.

Jami

Filmmaker Jami shared Nasir’s post regarding Hussain’s early release and drew parallels between Siddiqi and Mukadam’s cases in regards to how the state responds to the victims. “[The] state killed Noor if this is the way they behave[d] [towards Siddiqi],” he wrote.

Hussain’s release is a shocking blow to the public that is already reeling after Mukadam’s gruesome murder. People do not understand how someone convicted of such a brutal attack could be released early and avail technical remissions.

°°°

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1637234/women-are-angry-men-will-witness

Women are angry. Men will witness

This was another case of a man thinking he needed to show a woman her place, and things got out of hand.

Aisha S

27.07.21 Published about 21 hours ago

It was a day of anger. Women were angry. And men were to bear witness.

This was a day different from all the other days. Usually, men are angry, women stand down. But on that day, when we staged a sit-in at the #JusticeForNoor protest in Islamabad; a Sunday — a day when most people in the capital stay home with their families, now there is a dark shadow cast on the word family itself. Yet, this seemed like a new family; these women who had come together for a cause.

I stood in an enclosure roped in by volunteers who wouldn’t let anyone in except women and trans people. A speaker at the protest said: This is our space and while we applaud the men who have shown up in solidarity, today we ask them to stand back and stay quiet.

We were also told that the district officer had not permitted us to march beyond the sit-in at the press club, but we insisted we must march to the point closest to our parliament. We were taxpayers and we had demands — it was a simple case of wanting representation and being heard.

A participant speaking at the protest calling for justice for Noor Mukadam in Islamabad. — Photo by writer

We walked from the press club to the famous D-Chowk, one foot after another. In front, a woman wearing two-inch platform heels walked too, finding it harder than the rest of us in traditional khussas, but walking nonetheless in the same formation, her short hair clumped together from the sweat. It was a scorching afternoon and the sun beat down on us at about half boiling point. Inside us all, there was a slight thaw from the numbness we all felt over the last few days when we received news of 27-year-old Noor’s beheading — a violent murder, but an intent all too common. A man thought he needed to show a woman her place, and things got out of hand.

These streets belong to all of us, they are not men’s property — a young woman yelled into a crackling microphone. She stood atop a pickup with a banner honouring the three recently slain women at the hands of the men. Her voice was shrill, from screaming azadi slogans, and from just being a woman. We need a base voice in the rally, I said to my friend who was also a speaker. She smiled back from behind her Covid mask. At that time, humour felt like resistance.

Behind me, young girls raised a poster over their heads that read — raise better men. Almost all of us had deep sunset orange henna on our hands, intricately applied. The day Noor was murdered was the day we were all supposed to celebrate Eidul Azha and be merry. We were supposed to make offerings; not be an offering.

Protesters calling for justice for Noor Mukadam. — Photo by writer

I was marching somewhere in the middle of the crowd. Some women had dyed their hair blue, pink, and silver — it’s in vogue. Girls were wearing sleeveless, there were women in niqabs and there were women who were dupatta-clad, some women were demure, others boisterous, all focused on one single motive — mourning.

We walked, we chanted shame-shame-shame, and we walked some more.

When we turned onto the eight-lane Jinnah Avenue, we grew wide like a river that meets an ocean, in front of us was Constitution Avenue. The symbolism was unmistakable. Our founding father and his sister side-by-side in politics gave Pakistan a visual blueprint of how to behave, and our constitution, guaranteeing our protection and our equality. Our founding father died a year after the nation’s birth, his sister suspiciously dead not long after.

In Pakistan, women’s Constitutional rights are guaranteed, but are generally out-claused by other matters that are more important to the country than 51% of its population. Still we walked, onwards. To our right was commercial area and on our left were the banks that help roll out loans to enable the commercialism — all of this is mostly for men. We marched between the two, daring to ask, daring to name our murderers, daring to be soft, daring to be hard and to be shell-shocked; one more loudspeaker chant: give patriarchy one last push to its final end!

An attendee speaking at the protest in Islamabad. — Photo by writer

I chanted dry-mouthed, voice grainy. Maybe for us women, pushing patriarchy down may require much more than a nudge. I was parched and asked a friend to buy me some from water from a street hawker. The water was like hot soup. I thought of blood; blood is drawn out of women, much like hot soup. I’ve become morbid. Dark thoughts are a consequence of knowing too much. It is also a consequence of choosing not to cope by ignoring the problems our society coughs up again and again — violence against women, domestic violence, victim-blaming, and the well-funded war on women.

Call the gender wars what you may, but the blood must remain within our skins — no need to bleed us out because of minor discomfort to a moral code like honour. Feel dishonour, but please do not kill for it. Someone recognised their friend and rushed to them for a hug; they trembled and held each other tight while we marched on around their little friendship island. I am so glad you had the courage to show up, she told her friend.

We were promised that Noor’s friend was to speak, but she couldn’t. She was overcome by the protest and by the trauma it unleashed. I would be too. We had heard witness testimony earlier of a sister of a slain woman. She spoke about her nieces witnessing the crime. She spoke of delayed justice. She spoke of evidence tampering. She spoke of death. Her voice didn’t rattle, she had recounted it over and over again, but the rest of us shuddered and cried over the relatability of it — the familiar feeling of not being believed. Of getting silenced. Every story began with silencing, and every story was un-silenced because of social media’s ability to garner support for the underdog.

We finally sat down on the road to the parliament — the road blazing hot. This was it. This is where we say goodbye to Noor, but not to our need to bring her up every day of our lives; in memory, in words, and in a very cautious life for our daughters.

Why do we wait for a hashtag to get justice? The last speaker asked us. We nodded. The question assumes that #JusticeForNoor will get Noor Mukadam justice.

When we slowly walked back home from D-Chowk, banners in toe, the birdsongs from the trees along the well-heeled parts of Islamabad were louder than usual. I gathered some wildflowers along the roads leading back to my home. They now sit blooming in an earthen vase near a poster from the protest. They are also loud.