This a long post, but entirely uplifting. Read on.
- Heartwarming story of Jitender Chhattar and his wife. Jitender is from the state of Haryana, India, known for the poor status of women and high female feticide.
- Inspiring story about young lawyer Hassan Niazi of Lahore, Pakistan, who rode against the legal tide to support justice for a young woman in an environment of “deep-seated toxic masculinity”.
Jitender Chattar was a conventional man, even conservative, when his marriage was arranged by his parents to a girl from a nearby village. One day his fiancée asked him to come across with his parents, as she had something to say. And then everything changed.
Some years ago she was gang raped by eight men. After taking videos during the act they began to blackmail her and continued to assault her for a year and a half.
Quoting from Jitender’s talk to a leading Indian daily: ‘With tears in her eyes, she looked into mine and said, “I am not worthy of this relationship, please do not marry me.”My conscience started haunting me and I thought to myself, “God will not forgive me if I don’t marry her.’’ I told her, “I will not only marry you, I will also ensure that you get justice.”
Jitender proceeded to file the case, marry, and pursue his new mission. It has meant selling family land, facing death threats, shifting from the village to be closer to the court. An astute move has been for both of them to enroll for law courses so they can handle their own case eventually.
From the personal, the mission has gained a social perspective, and this extraordinary man envisions his wife will change lives: "She can join the judicial services or as a lawyer can help other rape survivors. We have already started a platform called, Youth Against Rapes."
Jitender Chattar has inspired award-winning documentary film maker Vibha Bakshi to make the film Son Rise, which shows him and other good men of Haryana in a changing mindscape.
After law student Khadija Siddiqui was stabbed 23 times by a classmate whose advances she spurned, it seemed the entire law fraternity was against justice being delivered. The perpetrator’s father was an influential lawyer. Despite it being an open and shut case, Khadija and her family were pressured by lawyers for a settlement out of court, her morality was questioned, there were threats of slander. Months after the family searched in vain for legal counsel, one young lawyer decided to go against the tide and take up Khadija’s cause: Hassan Niazi.
To break through Hassan Niazi proposed an unusual campaign on social media, conducting an almost parallel trial outside the courts and letting the public be the judge. It was a risk to take, as it could alienate the judges and put his career in the shade, but upheld by Khadija’s enormous courage against what she called “deep-seated toxic masculinity”, they went ahead.
From a report in www.equaltimes.org: “The day Niazi posted photos of her wounds on his Facebook page, Siddiqi’s case was transformed … Facebook groups with names like ‘Justice for Khadija’ were launched. The hashtag #FightlikeKhadija started trending on Twitter. Prominent TV anchors invited her on their prime-time shows. Siddiqi’s trial became a linchpin for a much-needed national discourse, in which the issues of gender inequality, the rule of law, class politics, and democracy converged.”
Three years after the incident, the trial continues. There has been conviction - and acquittal. The trial has moved to the Supreme Court. Hassan Niazi is confident, steadfast, committed, and sure that justice will prevail. Listen to his impassioned plea:
“I urge all women victims who have suffered to take a stand. No matter what you have suffered, whether an acid attack, sexual assault, or any other emotional or physical violence, you must fight” - Khadija in a talk with Newsweek