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May 11, 2021

My mother-in-law has been sleeping in my room since then. I am scared and insecure and want to know whether I should go to my parents’ house or not....

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Dear Nadine,

I am a 28-year-old woman. I am married and have a two-year-old son. My husband works in Saudi Arab, but I live in Karachi with my parents-in-law as they are old. My husband’s elder brother also lives in the house. He doesn’t work and usually spends his time with his friends. Before my husband left to work in Saudi Arabia, he asked his family to look after me and our son. But, about three weeks back, my brother-in-law tried to rape me. I was already asleep when he entered the room and I was too scared to even shout to see him for a few seconds. I then thought there was an emergency and may be something had happened to my father-in-law who had fever during the day. Then he attacked me and I started shouting for help. My son also woke up and started crying. My next-door neighbour heard my cries and sent her husband to help. He banged at the door and my father-in-law got up and opened the door. They both heard my shouts and came into the room and controlled my brother-in-law, who was high on some drug. Then my mother-in-law also woke up and when she found out what had happened, first she started yelling at me because I had not locked my room. Then she told me not to tell my husband because job situation in Saudia is bad and if I tell him he will come back and lose his job. She told me to go to my parents’ house till my husband is in Saudia. My neighbour told me not to leave the house but take measures to keep myself safe. My brother-in-law was embarrassed in the morning and apologised, but I don’t feel safe anymore. My mother-in-law has been sleeping in my room since then. I am scared and insecure and want to know whether I should go to my parents’ house or not. Also, should I tell my husband and not? I don’t trust my parents-in-law about this as they will try to protect their son. You know, for a few days I was so depressed that I wanted to kill myself. My neighbour and father-in-law saw everything. What should I do?


Dear WZ,

You are a very brave person, and must not think of committing suicides as you did not do anything wrong. In fact, you are the one who has been wronged. Your husband entrusted you to his parents and elder brother in his absence. Your brother-in-law broke that trust and he is the one who should feel ashamed. Had it not for the neighbour who heard your cries for help through your open window, you would have suffered a lot more. Your mother-in-law doesn’t want you to tell this to your husband because she knows that your brother-in-law doesn’t work and is dependent on your husband financially. She wants you to stay with your parents till your husband returns and it is possible that she has your best interest at heart as she claims, but if you go to your parents, God only knows what she might do to protect her son. Instead of condemning her son, she first shouted at you because you had not locked the door, which shows that she wants to protect him. It is possible that she will accuse you of leading your brother-in-law on. You should talk to your husband and tell him what happened so no misunderstanding can be created between you and him by your in-laws. Let your husband decide what he wants you to do. And, I am sure you now make it a point to lock your door. Stay safe, dear. Best of luck!

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