Domestic violence can be described as power misused by one adult in a relationship to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. Domestic violence is not simply about an ‘argument’. It is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional insults, and economic deprivation as a way to dominate their victims.
Pakistan is no stranger to this violence. In fact, our dramas promote violent men who become heroes in the end. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2017-2018, about 28 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 experience violence at the hands of their partners in their lifetimes. That’s a very high number. According to the survey, 80 per cent percent of married women who have experienced physical violence since age 15 report their current husband as the perpetrator, while 8 per cent name a former husband as the perpetrator. Previously, the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-2013 estimated that 32 per cent of women have experienced physical violence in Pakistan and 40 per cent of married women have suffered from spousal abuse at some point in their life. However, experts say that the actual number may be a lot higher as most women in Pakistan never tell others or even seek help.
Syeda Aliza officially filed for divorce from actor Feroze Khan on September 3. Aliza’s pictures from the court hearing went viral on social media. The mother-of-two presented evidence of domestic violence against her, done by her husband Feroze Khan, in court. Aliza took to social media and shared she had to “endure infidelity, blackmail and degradation” by Feroze. After the pictures of Aliza’s bruised arms and eye, along with a medical report detailing her injuries, went viral, she received massive support from people who might have not spoken if evidence wasn’t revealed. These documents resulted in an outpouring of support from members of the entertainment industry. Multiple actors from the entertainment industry came forward to condemn Feroze’s alleged violent attacks on his ex-wife. Colleagues of Feroze categorically berated the actor’s ill-treatment towards his wife and lambasted him for subjecting Aliza to domestic violence. Actor Iqra Aziz in an Instagram post has said that she is retracting from a project with Feroze Khan after he was accused of domestic violence. Khan’s drama Habs director, Musadiq Malik, spoke up against Feroze despite having worked with him in Habs, an ongoing serial.
In a classic act of cowardice, actor Feroze Khan released a statement denying all abuse allegations levied against him a day after fellow celebrities and social media rallied behind his ex-wife. Calling them false, he said as a believer in human rights, he has “never knowingly hurt another human being”. Despite Khan’s denial, the entertainment industry rallied behind Aliza en masse, offering their full support.
This incident makes us question the morality of some men, their upbringing, and sheer arrogance. Why does a woman always have to show evidence of violence? Her word should be enough. But it has also given us hope. The way that celebrities have come out in support of Feroze’s wife, regardless of the fact that people usually remain silent when one of their own is tainted, is inspiring. Can it be? Will the public outcry against Feroze lead to a public and outright ban? Or like others, will Feroze also get away with it? ‘Kya Yaar, what’s the big deal, men will be men’ keh kar khatam kareinge baat? We don’t think so. This time women, men, and Pakistan has had enough.