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Not much has changed for Imrana

In an exclusive interview to Kumkum Chadha, her first to the media, Imrana admits to being in a no-win situation.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 01:50 IST
Kumkum Chadha
Kumkum Chadha

Eight months ago, a young woman named Imrana became an inspiration to abused women all over due to her strength and courage. Raped by her father-in-law and ostracized for raising her voice against it, she also became the subject of mass media frenzy and an illogical fatwa.

Today, sadly, she is yesterday’s news — forgotten. The media attention has waned and her supporters have left. Worse, her husband, who had earlier stood by her, has threatened suicide if she presses charges against his father. “I will hang myself if my father is convicted,” he is reported to have told her. In an exclusive interview to the Hindustan Times, her first to the media, Imrana admits to being in a no-win situation. “Either way, I am the loser. If I listen to my husband, I could be hauled up for giving a false statement in court. If I go against him, he may poison himself or abandon me and our five children,” she says helplessly.

Noor Illahi had left his home in Charthawal village after his family had driven his wife out for lodging an FIR against his father, Ali Mohammad. Today, he wants Imrana to drop the charges, even as he drives around in his new rickshaw, bought for him by Imrana from the money given to her by Congress’ Rita Bahuguna.

Imrana also says she is under perpetual risk of being harmed. Threatened on a daily basis, she is also under pressure from her in-laws and the community to compromise. “If I say no, they will kill me,” she says. The police too haven’t given her any protection. In such a scenario, Imrana sees the purdah as her lone savior. “They can’t recognize me because my face is covered,” she says, adding that this has made it somewhat easier for her to attend court.

But the cross-examination is still a nightmare. “I feel the trauma even today but cannot express it. Black coats and legalities beat me. Kuch samaj nahin aata…,” she says, her voice breaking.

Imrana realizes that were she to change her stand, there would be legal repercussions. It also wouldn’t mean a happy ending. Her brothers-in-law Noor Mohammad and Noor Hasan have ruled out her ever returning to her in-laws’ home, saying: “Out of question. If she listens, we will give her the share of the family house but beyond that, nothing. Our brother is welcome but minus Imrana.”

But despite everything, Imrana’s resolve is as strong. “I won’t spare him (Ali). He must suffer. I may be living in fear but at least I’m free from physical abuse. I don’t want to lose my husband but if God has willed otherwise, what can I do?”

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 01:07 IST