By Arif Khan
e read the words “domestic violence” and our default understanding is a husband bashing up his wife. There is no denying that a vast majority of domestic violence cases put wives at the receiving end. More so in families where alcohol consumption is prevalent. But there is also an increasing trend of “reverse domestic violence” where men (and children) face violent behavior of wives and mothers. It is fairly widespread but rarely reported. This piece is no fiction. It is based on the review of various court documents, emails, audio and video evidences – of a reverse domestic violence case decided by a Criminal Court against Shaema Ahmed, wife of a senior corporate banker Mansur Durrani.
A published author, an educationalist and a well-regarded corporate banker, Mansur has been married for 15 years to Shaema Ahmed a resident of Zeba Bagh, Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad. For the sake of his small and innocent kids, Mansur had been putting up with her aggressive and crude behavior. Throughout their married life, evidence suggests, he had provided Shaema with a highly comfortable life – full time driver, full time domestic maid (not usual in a foreign country), Shaema and kids always flew business class and always stayed in five star hotels whenever and wherever they travelled. Earlier in their marriage, Mansur even sent Shaema to the US twice – for upgrading her skills by fully paying for her two courses at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia. But then there are some eternally ungrateful souls. Instead of paying back kindly, they tend to pay back in cruelty.
It was never a happy marriage. But Shaema started crossing first of many redlines on 28 July 2018 when Mansur was fixing security cameras in and around his apartment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Shaema came and asked them to stop fixing these cameras. On Mansur’s refusal to listen to her, the camera fixing continued. Within minutes, he received a call from the cops that your wife has complained about violence, you are called to the police station. All this happened in front of four external witnesses. They confirmed that there was no violence whatsoever and she simply wanted us to stop fixing the security cameras.
She registered second fabricated police complaint on 15 October 2018. Same charge of domestic violence was made. I have seen the police report that clearly states that she has no evidence of what she is reporting.
But when the cases are registered, the legal process has to be followed. After preliminary investigation, Jeddah police did not find any evidence of violence by Mansur. Yet, in line with the best legal practices, Saudi police is not supposed to close the file at the local police station level. Accordingly, due legal procedure was followed and the report of preliminary police investigations along with Shaema’s own recorded and signed statements at the police station were sent to the Prosecutor’s Office (PO).
The legal procedure is that if the PO independently determines that violence took place, then the file is sent to the court for formally charging the culprit and start processing the case. On the other hand, based on the complainant’s own signed statement together with police investigation report if PO does not see any merit in the complaint then the case is closed and the file is sent back to the police station. After more than six months of investigations the PO did not find any evidence to forward the case to the court. So through their order number 74647 dated 8th February 2019, PO closed the file and acquitted Mansoor from all allegations of violence.
Such false and fabricated complaints – together with a long history of her own violent behavior – have consequences in every civilized society. Through a letter dated 10 March 2019, Mansur’s lawyer informed him of his acquittal. The lawyer also mentioned that filing false and fabricated complaints is a Libel Crime which carries punishment. Despite this option, Mansur did not take any legal action against his wife. Even then, she did not learn her lessons. Shaema continued her violent behavior – which Mansur now began recording for the very first time in their entire married life.
Having earlier failed in her fabricated police complaints; and noticing that her continued violent behavior is now being recorded, on 5th May 2019 while Mansur was at work, Shaema ran away from home with all the kids and launched a smear campaign against him. Her tactic this time was to resort to all possible illegal and unethical means to pressurize Mansur to allow her leave the country just to escape any potential legal punishment of her past crimes, including fabricated police reports.
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Shaema harbored bad intentions to bring EPS into disrepute and eventually get it closed down. After facing mental and emotional torment for months in clearing his name and salvaging his reputation Mansur was already drained. But when she disappeared from home and launched another malicious campaign, this time clearly targeting the world’s lowest fees IB World School Mansur has set up to educate under-privileged Muslim children, he ran out of patience. Loaded with irrefutable evidences, he filed a case of “reverse” domestic violence and defamation against Shaema in the Eleventh Criminal Court in North Jeddah on 13 May 2019 – eight days after she ran away from home with kids. Her very public attack on a noble project – where several hundred students receiving world-class education and hundreds others are earning their livelihood – was described by a reputed Supreme Court lawyer in Delhi as “pure evil”!
Still her evil instincts did not die down. On 17th June 2019, while Mansur was out of the country on business, Shaema came with a key maker and tried to illegally break the main door of his house. The key maker and two more eyewitnesses have confirmed this. The guard of Mansur’s apartment building reported to the police and Shaema was advised by the officer at the police station not to resort to this illegal act.
For the second year in a row, she did not send her kids to schools. Extremely concerned about the loss of their education, Mansur complained to a family court. Even kids are increasingly frustrated at Shaema’s cruel behavior. In a 10 September 2020 email a son requested Mansur “to file another court case against Mama because she is not sending us to school”!
Between 13 May 2019 and 10 September 2020, seven hearings took place in the Criminal Court. Eleven audio and video evidences were submitted by Mansur in the court. To make the court fully understand the gravity of her violent behavior, certified translation of video/audio transcripts were also submitted in the court. But to run a fair and credible justice process, the court sought to directly understand Shaema’s abusive and crass language in videos and audio recordings.
The court appointed translator was so shocked by her language in videos that he told the judge “I am feeling shy in even repeating to you her words, Your Excellency”! This is mentioned in the court judgement. And the translator later admitted that he has been translating such disputes among Indian and Pakistani families for eleven years inside the court room. But in this entire period he never heard a woman using such a language.
Painfully but patiently, he ran through this entire legal process for 17 months. In the final hearing, Shaema confessed to the judge about her violent behavior and malicious allegations. Based on multiple evidences and her own confession recorded in the court judgement, she was given one month jail through the order number 421030634 dated 10 October 2020.
Since Shaema brought this domestic dispute into public space in May 2019, I have been closely tracking the matter. After the court verdict, I spoke to Mansur to get his reaction. In an understandably dejected tone, he said: “It is one of those occasions when you have a sense of loss even in a victory! Lies always have a very short shelf life. Fabricated stories generate instant sympathy and support. But both liars and their supporters eventually face pain and humiliation. A large Hyderabadi Muslim community resides outside India. Shaema may be the-first-and-only Hyderabadi Muslim woman convicted by a criminal court on a foreign soil. So from this perspective, sadly, her imprisonment is a blot on the entire Hyderabadi community.”
To save Shaema from going to jail and safeguarding the physical and emotional wellbeing of his kids, Mansur offered to forgive her through an email dated 23 November 2020, provided she agrees not to make false allegations again. But she coldly rejected his compassionate offer, possibly contemplating further malice. She was formally arrested on 2nd December 2020 and physically loaded on the prison van. At this moment, practicing one of his lifelong twin-principles of “giving’ and “forgiving”, Mansur unilaterally forgave, waived his right to punish and took her out of the prison van in the presence of more than 10 witnesses.
Let me reiterate that a large number of women face violence at the hands of men which is highly deplorable. But it is equally disgraceful for women to unleash violence, slandering and fabricated accusations against men. All humans deserve equal safety and dignity regardless of gender, race or color.
Arif Khan is a Chartered Accountant, Writer and Social Activist.