- Sehra Waheed, author of ‘Silent Submission’, asks Pakistani women to stand up against domestic violence
By Razzak Abro
A harrowing account of a young Pakistani woman caught amidst an expatriate society in its most primitive notions on the role of women in marriage – ‘Silent Submission’ describes the life story of Sehra Waheed. The author was present at a media roundtable meeting “Institutional Responses of Domestic Violence” hosted by the US Consulate, Karachi at a hotel on Wednesday. Two women – Waheed and Zara Sethi – survivors of domestic violence have joined hands to ask the Pakistani women, facing different types of domestic violence and abuses in their daily life, to stand up against injustices.
Speaking on the occasion, the women emphasised on the need for more legislation regarding women protection.
They urged the media and civil society to play their due roles in highlighting the issues being faced by women and create awareness among the womenfolk about their rights and laws.
The also spoke about the media’s role in implementation of women-specific laws in the country. Sethi also shared her worst experiences of domestic violence after her marriage with a high-ranking government official. “Despite a government official residing in the upper portion of our building, nobody dared to come to my rescue whenever I was subjected to physical torture in my own house” she said. “Neither our domestic aides, nor our neighbours.”
Waheed was born and raised in Karachi and received her early education at St Joseph Convent High School and The Bayard Rustin High School for Humanities in New York. She attended the New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology College, where she studied Interior Design.
She is the daughter of a commercial airline pilot and a homemaker. Sehra has two sisters who are also involved in interiors and designing.
Silent Submission is the author’s first book.
“As I began writing in the spring of 2008, I was aware of the consequences of sharing my private life with the world. At the same time, I felt compelled to do so by breaking my silent submission and taking a stand. My goal in penning such a traumatic experience is to offer a platform for all battered woman to speak up and seek out the help they need to break the vicious cycle of violence,” writes Waheed in her book’s note. “My message will hopefully inspire [women] in their struggles to escape their abusers to be free by reclaiming and reconstructing their lives. I wish to pave that path to an emotionally safe and sound road to recovery through this book. My course to such journey began by identifying with these three strong women, Tehmina Durrani, Kiranjit Ahulwalia and Mukhtar Mai. Their inspiration helped me regain confidence and the willingness to break free of violence. Through the lenses of these women, I learned what it meant to not forfeit ones self-respect and religious convictions as they sought refuge to survive. I firmly believe hope triumphs in the face of intolerance and the ability to transcend adversity.”