Published:  05:30 PM, 04 April 2019

Pakistan Asma Aziz: Wife who had 'head shaved for refusing to dance'

Pakistan Asma Aziz: Wife who had 'head shaved for refusing to dance'

A Pakistani woman has publicly accused herhusband of beating her and shaving her head for refusing to dance for him andhis friends, in a case that has raised new concerns about women's safety in thecountry.

Asma Aziz, from Lahore, made headlines when she published a shocking videoon social media showing her shaven head and bruised face.

Her husband, Mian Faisal, and a servant are both in police custody. MrFaisal has denied torture.

However, the case has prompted calls for more to be done to protect womenfrom domestic violence.

In a tweet, Amnesty International said "systemic change" wasnecessary.

In her video posted on 26 March, an emotional Ms Aziz alleged that two daysearlier she was tortured after refusing to dance in front of her husband'sfriends who were at their house in Lahore's upmarket Defence Housing Authority(DHA) district.

"He took my clothes off in front of his servants. The servants held meas he shaved my hair off and burned it. My clothes were bloody. I was bound bya pipe and hung from the fan. He threatened to hang me naked," she said.

She said she went to the police to file a complaint but they procrastinated- the police deny the allegation, saying that immediately after Ms Aziz's visitto the police station a team was dispatched to her residence but it was foundlocked and the DHA management prevented them from entering the premises.

Police acted only after the video came to the notice of Deputy Minister forInterior, Sheheryar Afridi, who ordered officers to register a complaint.

Mr Faisal and the servant, Rashid Ali, were arrested the following day. Apreliminary medical report found multiple bruises, swelling and redness on MsAziz's arms, cheeks and around her left eye.

Ms Aziz's lawyers later pleaded that the case be tried under the stricteranti-terrorism law instead of the usual criminal procedure.

In papers filed to the Lahore police on Wednesday, the lawyers argued thatthe case had caused "wider restlessness and anxiety in society".

Mr Faisal told the police last week that his wife had started cutting herhair under the influence of drugs, and that he, having also taken drugs, onlyhelped her finish the job.

The case caused a furore on social media, with many voicing their anger atdomestic violence in Pakistan.

Pakistani actress and singer Sanam Saeed was among those who spoke out indefence of Ms Aziz.

Women's rights in socially conservative Pakistan has been a contentioustopic of debate for years.

The UN's Gender Inequality Index in 2016 puts Pakistan 147th in a list of188 countries based on its poor record on women's health, education, politicalempowerment and economic status.

Violence against women and girls remains a serious issue. Activists sayofficial statistics do not reveal the extent of the problem - many cases gounreported.

Women's Day marches last month brought complaints from some conservativegroups. Some of the protest organisers said they received death and rapethreats on social media.

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