The Story of Shahnaz

A charming face with articulate expression and fine mannerisms, 19 year old Shahnaz sits calmly as she narrates her story. Daughter of a milkman from central Punjab settled in Karachi, Shahnaz is the eldest of seven siblings. She completed High School and dreamed of a better life.
Shahnaz became friends with Raza, a tailor from her neighborhood. Razds family approached Shahnaz’s father a few times to ask for her hand in marriage only to be rebu.. Shahnaz’s father, threatened by Shahnaz’s exertion of her choice, hastily arranged for her to be married to an older man from his community. Patriarchy, community tradition and ego shrouded her father’s judgment. Shahnaz, self-assured of her own convictions, refused to marry the man her father picked out for her. Her parents were unyielding and refused to compromise, so Shahnaz eloped with Raza. Her father, outraged and appalled by her defiance, filed a kidnapping case against her husband. Pretty soon, police found the couple, sent Raza to jail and moved Shahnaz to Panah shelter. With the help of lawyers assigned by Panah, Shahnaz fought a case and the judge ruled in her favor, stating that Raza and Shahnaz were consenting adults and it was not a case of kidnapping.
Shahnaz’s father, driven by rage and revenge for her insubordination, filed another case against Shahnaz and Raza, stating that she was already married, which was illegal, and in this case, untrue. This was a serious allegation of zina (extramarital sex, punishable by death. Her father was able to send Raza and his brother to jail. Shahnaz found sanctuary at the Shelter, where she was secure from her outraged parents and their threats.
Shahnaz and her husband are currendy fighting a legal battle, so that they can be reunited again and start their new life. Panah is helping Shanaz find employment that can economically sustain herself.
Without the resources of Panah, Shahnaz would have been another helpless voice lost amongst millions in this city.

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