Joy to the world, Peace on earth and good will to men… Sadly this is not a time of joy or peace for many families in Pakistan. The horror that unfolded on Tuesday is a poignant reminder of the Sandy Hooks shooting in December 2014. What happened in Pakistan is even worse. The onslaught was carried out by people seeking revenge and in the aftermath more that 140 people were killed and of that amount about 130 were children.
It is very sad that people are so heartless in taking the lives of others. We cannot have peace by creating wars. There is no justifying bloodshed and mayhem. The world is a big place and there is room enough for us all to live together in peace and harmony.
The horrors of honor killings continues. Late last year a seventeen year old Pakistan girl miraculously cheated death. Her attacker was her own brother. Gul Meena life of misery began at the age of twelve when she was married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather.
She says, “My husband was sixty. Everyday he would beat me. I would cry and beg him to stop, but he kept on beating me.” Her family was not very supportive. “My family would hit me when I complain,” she said. “They told me you belong in your husband’s house, it is your life.
After five years of abusive Gul Meena met a young Afghan man and finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband in Pakistan. In November 2012 she packed some of her things and they made their was across the border to the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan. She knew what she was doing was dangerous. Running away from her husband with another man was committing the ultimate sin. But she was tired of the life she was living.
“I tried to kill myself with poison several times but it didn’t work,” she said. “I hated my life. I had to escape.
Days later her older brother tracked them down. Using an ax he hacked to death Gul Meena’s friend and then struck her fifteen times cutting open her face head and other parts of her body. Believing that she was dead he escaped back to Pakistan. The authorities are yet to catch him and his family denies that he tried to kill his sister.
Passersby hearing the commotion discovered Gul lying in a pool of blood in bed and rushed her to the Emergency Department of Nangarhar Regional Medical Centre. Part of her brain was hanging out of her skull. Neurosurgeon Zamiruddin Khalid held out little hope that she would survive. She had lost a lot of blood and her injuries were horrific. But by some act of God she defeated death and survived.
Even then her troubles were not over; she had received life-saving treatment from doctors and staff at the hospital but she had no one to care for her on the outside. Gul had been disowned by her family and despite the government and authorities knowing that she was alive and receiving care at the hospital, they wanted nothing to do with her due to the stigma and circumstances surrounding her attack.
She stayed in the hospital for two months thanks to the generosity of doctors who donated money to pay for her medicine. Finally the organization Women for Afghan women were informed of her situation. They took her in, transporting her back to a shelter in Kabul to give her the love and care she so badly needed.
Gul Meena is one of the thousands of women living in shelters across Afghanistan. Many of them are victims of attempted honor killings.
This should be a season of goodwill. Joy to the world, peace to men on earth, but the season is anything but joyful or peaceful. While the people of Newton Connecticut are still trying to come to terms with the shooting deaths of twenty children and seven adults, in other parts of the world the senseless killings continues.
In Pakistan six health workers on a polio eradication campaign were shot dead. Polio is an infectious disease which can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. There is the need for safe and effective vaccines to protect children from the disease which according to the WHO, is currently endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Four female health workers were reportedly shot dead in Karachi on Tuesday. Two were killed after administering vaccination to children. Two other women were shot while going from house to house giving vaccination in Peshawar. Police official Javed Khan said the gunmen opened fire on the women as they left a house where they had vaccinated children.