Tabinda’s story is a shocking tale of abuse, survival and a woman’s unwavering will to live. She survived a gruesome attack. She was 28 years old, married off at 18 to a first cousin. He had been abusive throughout. She bore four kids despite constant abuse and stayed for ten long years. She thought that he was going to change and that she could change him.
All these years she felt sad, depressed and alone. She lived in fear of her abusive spouse as their marriage crumbled and chillingly foretold her fate to her mother. He was verbally abusive, and then the emotional abuse turned violent. She got beaten for every little argument. She added that she was fast falling apart. Her in-laws bore silent witness to the violence she endured and often instigated him to beat her up, fully supportive of their son’s cruel violence. They had concealed his drug addiction prior to their marriage, trapping her in a relationship. She felt her only value to them was as a child-bearer. She stated that the women of the house were the worst lot as they were utterly insensitive and lacking all fellow feeling for another woman.
Life got frightening. She was constantly a victim of marital rape, and he got only more abusive. She fled from him with her kids to the refuge of her mother’s home. She sought the protective guardianship of her mother against the violent and sadistic spouse. She wanted to take her life back and wanted to let everyone know that her spouse had no longer control on her. She expressed a will to live for the sake of her kids. She stated that she had been robbed of her youth and her physique, but not of her spirit. It was the kids who kept her going.
She had lived at her mother’s house for ten months with her four kids. The spouse would occasionally visit the kids and plead for her to return. She had in the meantime filed for ‘khula’, or divorce. After fleeing her home she thought that she had escaped abuse. In fact, the most dangerous moment for women leaving abusive partners is the period after she leaves. During one of his visits he attacked her. The abuse turned deadly when he went from ranting to grabbing a gun. He shot her in the legs at point blank range.
Against the odds she survived. She had been lying still on a hospital bed for eleven days when we met her. She said that she has survived to tell her story. The mother of Tabinda had the heartbreaking task of sending the kids to the abusive in-laws as there was nobody to take care of them as she herself is Tabinda’s attendant during hospitalization. Tabinda has a brother who is home but he is epileptic and incapable of caring for them. These kids were always terrified. Now they were a witness to the horror of their mother being shot and perhaps being gone forever.
The mother of Tabinda, a widow with a dependent disabled 30 year-old son, was very poor. She was a home-based worker who had set up a ‘tandoor’ at home and made nan bread for sale in the village. She and her son had also often been beaten up by Tabinda’s drug-addicted spouse. She said she had always suspected that the man was no good. But the shooting came as a horrible surprise for all of Tabinda’s family. The family was already being shunned for having given refuge to Tabinda, an act which in conservative societies is considered taboo and tainted them by association.
With the perpetrator still at large, Tabinda still bears the physical and mental pain of the injury and of the separation from her small kids. This man, who should have been faced with attempted murder, weapons offences, and child endangerment charges, was free. Tabinda had suffered unnecessarily at this man’s perverted whims. Who would see these crimes? Who would stand up for her? Would she be able to move past the trauma? Would her emotional and physical scars ever heal? Has her children’s mental wellbeing been forever damaged?
Her case depicts a gory authenticity that would horrify anyone. It haunts anyone with a conscience. Is there any sparkling of hope for Tabinda? The disparity between man and wife goes on unnoticed in a male-dominated society with women’s inability to change things. Harsh life for Tabinda would continue unquestioned and unchallenged. Her story portrays a sense of loneliness, gripping and strong. She shared the worst disturbing events of her rapes in frightening detail. The dark side of reality has touched her to the core. Women will continue to routinely be subject to the most unimaginable horrors. It is a saga of sadness. Tabinda’s story reflects strongly an underlying misogyny which regrettably forms the foundation of the local culture. The plight of Tabinda is deeply disturbing. The world needs to wake up and understand the plight of women in more conservative societies and in general.
She would have gone home untreated and maimed for life, had she not been noticed by Dr. Sania during one of her hospital visits. She was struck by the painful look in Tabinda’s eyes. The outcome of Heartfile’s assessment is reflected in the above sharing. The procedure was financially supported by Heartfile, and additionally she was provided with some cash towards the purchase of milk and fruit.