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28 Apr - 04 May , 2012
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LONDON EYE
Fakhra Younus' Case As Seen From Britain
by SHAHED SADULLAH

Four hundred years ago the great bard of Stratford-upon-Avon had expressed the view that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. While that pithy observation is still largely true, over the years men have shown that their fury at being scorned by a woman does not come too far behind the fury of the fair sex.
The acid attacks that are meant to disfigure women who have the temerity to say 'no' to men are perhaps much more devilish than any hellish fury any woman could come up with. A documentary on the subject Fakhra Younus' Case As Seen From Britainwon its Pakistani producer an Oscar and brought much justifiable pride to many Pakistanis the world over. The subject matter of the documentary, however, was one about which Pakistanis had much less cause to be proud.
The case of acid attacks on women in Pakistan was highlighted again recently when one victim of such an attack, Fakhra Younus, who had sought asylum in Italy, committed suicide by throwing herself from her sixth floor apartment balcony in Rome. The fact that the person alleged to have perpetrated the attack is the cousin of Pakistan's foreign minister highlighted another dimension of the problem, making it even more Pakistan specific as an issue.
Yet, that would not be entirely true. Here in Britain, we have had the most horrendous case of a attack on a woman by a former lover, a case which shows that males giving vent to uncontrollable rage on females is not just a Pakistani thing by any means.
32-year-old Tina Nash was subjected to a harrowing 12-hour attack at the hands of her lover, Shane Jenkin, who was blinded by a fury that knew no bounds. He throttled her until she was unconscious and then gouged her eyes out leaving her totally blind. He also inflicted horrific facial injuries on her including a fractured nose and jaw. Jenkin pleaded guilty in court and is now awaiting sentence.
Ms Nash has said that she wished Jenkin had killed her because she "feels like a ghost" in her world of total darkness. She said: "I feel like I have been buried alive…I can hear everyone but I can't even see my kids' faces…I actually wish I wasn't here."
What makes it even worse is the fact that she was sleeping in her bed when she awoke to find Jenkin,who had a history of domestic violence, going beserk. After the attack her face was so horrifically injured that friends could not bear to be in the same room as her. She had to undergo several operations on her head and face during four weeks of hospital treatment but the doctors could not save her eyes.
Domestic violence is by no means unknown in the UK. It accounts for between 16 and 25 per cent of all recorded violent crime in the country and an incident is reported to the police every minute. 45 per cent of women have experienced at least one incident of inter-personal violence in their life times and in any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical violence or threats of violence to women from partners or former partners. Fifty four per cent of rapes are committed by a woman's partner or former partner and on average two women a week are killed by a partner or a former partner. And to add to all this, many less serious incidents of domestic violence against women go unreported.
Although such statistics would not have been available four hundred years ago, it would be reasonable to presume that domestic violence was as prevalent in Britain then as it is now, or perhaps even more so. It may be that if such figures were available then, Shakespeare may well have reconsidered his observation Fakhra Younus' Case As Seen From Britainabout the fury of scorned women – or may be he wouldn't. After all, he was as much a product of his time as anyone else and subject to the commonly held values of the time as well as its political pressures. I was made deeply aware of this when I visited Bosworth Fields, the scene of the battle in August 1485 in which Henry Tudor defeated Richard III to bring in the Tudor dynasty and along with it some of England's most colourful monarchs. Schooled in Shakespeare, I was convinced that Richard was the unmitigated villain Shakespeare made him out to be and that he was so considered by everyone in the country. But I soon found out that that was not even nearly the case. Standing next to the stone monument which marked the place where Richard fell, I found a National Heritage guard shouting at me with very visible anger on his face asking me – nay, directing me – to take off my cap and reminding me in no uncertain terms that I was in the presence of a King of England. Unlike the East, in the West doffing one's cap is a mark of respect. I was also reminded, in a fairly brusque manner that the king I stood before was the last English king to die on the battlefield fighting for his country, which fact was engraved in the stone marker.
All this was a far cry from Shakespeare's unsavoury villain. However, it has to be kept in mind that Richard was English while Henry, who ascended the throne as Henry VII was more French than English and on that basis, if the matter had been decided by ballot rather than battle, Richard might well have won the day. Richard was also, by all accounts, a very brave man and the bit about him willing to exchange his kingdom for a horse as he faced death on Bosworth Fields, has as much truth to it as the story of the tooth fairy.
So why was Shakespear's view so screwed? Well, he was born and did much of his writing during the time of Elizabeth I, the granddaughter of Henry VII. The painting of her grandfather as anything other than the hero of the piece would probably not have amused the Virgin Queen and no one would have been more mindful of this than the wise bard. And to that end if history had to be tweaked a bit, so be it.
Perhaps the only conclusion that one can come to is that the quest for a free media has always been a bit of a mirage. But that is a long way away from domestic violence.

 
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