“According to the Human Rights Watch, 70-90% of women in Pakistan have experienced some form of domestic violence. Government-run shelters throughout the country house women from all walks of life who have come to seek protection.
Some women are brought to the shelter by a family member who has shunned them in the name of honor. Some women come to the shelter on their own, fearing for their lives. If a woman refuses to marry a man of her parents choosing, or marries a man she loves and has chosen on her own, or seeks a divorce from her husband, her family may deem her action dishonorable – perhaps even punishable by death. Pakistan’s Interior Ministry acknowledges more than 4,100 honor killings between 2001-2004.
Many women come in alone, with little hope and once inside they are nearly cut off from the outside world. They are separated into rooms according to their legal circumstances, and leave the shelter only when their court order comes through. Because lawyers are costly, and can only be arranged by relatives or the government, many women end up having no choice but to stay in the shelter for months or even years. But still, inside, they find friendship and support in one another; cultivating hope and rebuilding their lives for when they begin life outside the walls of the shelter.”
(Photo and text: Katie Falkenberg)