An Indian woman, who left her country and religion to marry a Pakistani man but was betrayed and virtually imprisoned by him for 13 years, finally has hope of returning home, with the human rights commission here taking up her case.

Shabnam, who was originally called Shirley Ann Hodges, met Gul Khan in India, whom she married before travelling to Karachi with her new-born child to meet his family on a six-month visa 13 years ago.

However, in Karachi she was introduced to Khan’s first wife and her six children, and was never allowed to return.

After her case came to light, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and noted human rights lawyers, Asma Jahangir and Ansar Burney, have started efforts to help her return home.

Abdul Hai of the HRCP and Burney confirmed they had been approached for help by the woman’s family members from Ahmedabad and were now looking at her case.

According to details in the Pakistan newspaper, the woman left her family and religion to marry Gul Khan, a money lender whom she met in Ahmedabad, and married in 1997.

“I was previously named Shirley Ann Hodges but changed my religion and name after meeting Gul Muhammad Khan in Ahmedabad in 1997 where we got married,” the Indian said.

As soon as Shabnam landed in Karachi, she was abruptly introduced to the nightmare her life would become: she was introduced to Gul’s first wife and six children; her Indian passport was seized; she was gifted a burqa and locked away on the top floor of her in-laws’ house.

Thirteen years since, Shabnam remains confined at the top floor of the house in the Landhi area dominated by Pukhtuns and is not allowed any visitors.


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