The abuse of South African women by foreign nationals apparently, is quite a huge problem that is kept under wraps, not that all foreign nationals are devious, abusive or uncaring. From our interactions during the past few days we were given the impression that the abuse of South African women lured into marriage by very smooth talking, convincing, "loving" and "caring" foreign nationals of various countries inside and outside Africa has led to severe oppression, abuse, emotional trauma and intense hardship. Take the case of Sajida Sungey, a Cape Town woman who married a Pakistani national and eventually moved to Pakistan with her husband in 2010 just after the birth of their son. According to representatives of the South African High Commission in Islamabad, Sajida is at emotional break point as she presented a 10-page testimony in a Pakistani court on Monday, 13 February 2012, detailing months of emotional, physical and verbal abuse including prolonged periods of "captivity" both by her husband and his family in some rural area of Pakistan with no access to the outside world nor permission to contact her family in South Africa. Any attempt to make a call was immediately terminated even as she spoke to her family leaving her elderly mother and siblings in a state of anguish and anxiety unaware of the whereabouts, the wellbeing and the safety of Sajida and her two children, the little boy now one and a half year's of age and an 11 year old daughter from a previous marriage, who was also subjected to abuse by the husband.
Sajida is on a flight to South Africa today, paid for by Gift of the Givers to "rescue" her and the two children. The 5-day accommodation in a safe venue under police guard and all other related expenses have also been funded by us. Gift of the Givers was approached by Sajida's family and the SA High Commission in Islamabad to assist. Colonel Imraan Hayder, a SA government official at the embassy details how they received an urgent distress call from Sajida last week with no details of location. The Pakistani authority including police, intelligence services, courts and other relevant authorities were outstanding in their empathy, response and support, tracing Sajida to some rural area, rescuing her and placing her in a guarded venue during the last 5 days. Media reports in Pakistan highlighted her case. Our thanks go out both to the South African and Pakistani authorities in the professional, efficient, speedy and humane manner in which this "rescue" was handled. Sajida will be reunited with her elderly mother who has patiently waited months on end for some positive news on her daughter's condition which she was inexcusably denied due to a deliberate communication blackout by the husband and her family who in their words wanted to "culturalise" her. How many more families are in Sajida's predicament. It is for this very reason that both Sajida and her family agreed to this saga being publicised in the hope that the media and human rights group will investigate the prevalence of this type of abuse that totally dehumanises South African women. It must be emphasised that though the focus is on one particular type of abuse as highlighted by this case, any type of abuse by any human irrespective of gender or nationality is abominable and totally unacceptable. Gift of the Givers has arranged trauma counselling for the family following their return today. Given Sajida's traumatic state as emphasised repeatedly by Colonel Hayder, who has been a pillar of strength to her during these tense five days to the point of overseeing her safe and unhindered boarding of the flight in the early hours of this morning, all media requests for interviews will be put on hold until permission is granted by the specialist trauma counsellor as Sajida is on an emotional precipice. We beg your indulgence as the family needs their space and time to bond. If you are aware of similar cases and want to shed more light on the prevalence of this type of disgusting practice please call Gift of the Givers Careline tollfree on 0800 786 786.
Cape Argus 21 February 2012
Cape Argus 15 February 2012