While other people went to work, met their friends and lived their lives, two sisters in Mardan were locked in the dark for five years.
They were found after their neighbours informed the Human Rights of the Commission about them.
A team reached the house, located near Chowk Mian Gaan neighbourhood. They kept knocking on the rusty gate, but no one answered. The team then broke into the house with the help of the police and found the women in a dark room. There was no bed or charpoy. One woman with broken teeth was shivering while lying on the floor.
Two female officers approached them and tried to speak to them, but they remained silent. They were then given chai, bread and new clothes but when the team tried to convince them to visit a doctor they refused.
After some time, they were given sedatives and taken for a check-up. The women have been shifted to Islamabad’s Edhi Centre because there were no facilities to handle their case in Mardan.
Batch topper and teacher
The women weren’t always like this. Their condition changed after their father, Aurangzeb, died.
The younger sister, 28-year-old Gulnaz, got the highest marks while completing her BA from Mardan Degree College. The older sister, Zebunnisa, used to teach at a government school in Risalpur.
According to the neighbours, the women’s father was very conservative. He didn’t want his daughters to go out and work. He insisted that Zebunnisa should quit as the commute was quite difficult.
“He used to pick them up and drop them everywhere. He would never let them go alone,” said one of the neighbours.
After his death, their relatives provided them financial help for a year or two. But, then they stopped.
The sisters resorted to slowly selling their furniture. First, the carpet went, then the fridge and then the bed, and eventually they had nothing left to sell.
The elder sister used to tutor children from the neighbourhood. Soon that stopped too.
Weeks went by and they wouldn't leave their house. Their neighbours used to hear screams coming from the house because the sisters would argue and fight often.
Their neighbours would leave food outside the house, which they would sometimes be eaten and more often than not be left to rot.
Their troubles are far from over. When they were brought to Edhi Centre, their maternal uncle came and signed an affidavit claiming that they are not a part of the family anymore.
The women continue asking for their paternal uncle but to no avail. The 34-year-old Zebunnisa feels partially responsible for ‘ruining’ her younger sister’s degree. “I wasted her documents,” she said. Everyone thinks that my sister is suffering from a mental disorder, she added.
Human Rights Director Shadab Khan remarked that the sisters were failed by society. “We couldn’t help them the way we wanted to. We have just shifted them to Edhi Centre but done nothing for their rehabilitation,” he said.