Sajida Tasneem, who was allegedly murdered by her father-in-law in Pakistan, had been desperate to return to Australia with her three young children.
The Australian High Commission in Pakistan is providing support to the family but lacks the authority to intervene.
Women’s advocates are urging more support for migrant women stuck in abusive relationships.
This article contains references to domestic violence.
With Australia’s Pakistani community still reeling from the alleged murder of an Australian mother of three by her father-in-law in Pakistan, women’s support groups say more needs to be done to assist migrant women trapped in abusive relationships.
ms Tasneem, who had moved to Perth in 2013, was well-known in the city’s Pakistani community for running a women’s food group on Facebook called Ess Tasneem.
According to her father, Sher Muhammad, she had been pressured by her husband, Ayub Ahmad, into relocating to Pakistan in 2017.
mr Muhammad Told SBS Urdu that his daughter had wanted to take her children back to Australia, but this desire was met with strong opposition from her in-laws who claimed it did not align with their traditional, cultural and religious values.
“My daughter had wanted to raise and educate the children in Australia, and that was the primary point of confrontation between her and her in-laws,” he added.
With the Australian High Commission following the progress of the case, but unable to intervene, mr Muhammad expressed grave fears that his grandchildren will never be able to travel safely to Australia as his daughter wished.
I strongly denied the claims of ms Tasneem’s in-laws that she only wanted to take the kids to Australia to convert them to Christianity.
“This is a smear campaign to play a religious card in order to sway public opinion,” he said.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told SBS Urdu that the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been in contact with the family of an Australian woman killed in Pakistan to offer condolences. The family is being provided consular assistance. “Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment”, the spokesperson added.
Tributes to the mother of three children killed have spread on social media with the hashtag #JusticeforSajidaTasneem.
Yasmin Khan is the director of the bangle Foundation, a volunteer group in Queensland that helps women of South Asian background escape domestic violence and abuse.
She told SBS Urdu there are many underlying fears which may force migrant women to stay in abusive relationships and suffer in silence.
These may include fears about what will happen to their children, how their family back home will react, how they will survive financially and what will happen to their visa/immigration status in Australia.
“First things first, a perpetrator of domestic and family violence cannot cancel your visa,” ms Khan said.
The Australian Government has a zero-tolerance for domestic and family violence against anyone, including permanent or temporary visa holders
ms Tasneem’s three young children are now in the custody of her parents, who live in Sargodha, west of Lahore.
Australian foreign office says that Australian Embassies, including the High Commission of Australia in Islamabad, have no authority to intervene in local judicial matters, conduct local investigations, or pay for funeral or repatriation costs.
Smartraveller provides information on what happens when an Australian dies overseas.
What to do If you are forced to leave Australia against your will?
If someone feels he or she will be forced to leave Australia against their will then they must secure all their documents including, their passport, in custody immediately.
If you don’t have originals, secure copies or even pictures on your phone
If you are overseas and in danger then contact the Australian Embassy/Consulate/High Commission in your country of residence and explain your situation to them. Save the consulate number in your contact list
ms Khan, of the Bangle Foundation, told SBS Urdu that women, both australians and permanent residents, regularly call the foundation saying their husbands were forcing them to leave Australia.
She provided a few tips for women in such situations.
This includes securing vital documents, including a Passport/ID Card. If you don’t have originals, she recommends secure copies or even pictures on your phone
If you are overseas and in danger, then contact the australian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in your country of residence and explain your situation to them. Save the consulate number in your contact list
ms Khan urged women to speak out not only on physical abuse but also on mental or financial abuse.
“Please don’t say ‘Kuch Nahi’ pit [nothing happened]’if your doctor, the authorities or police ask questions,” she said.
“Don’t feel that you are alone here even if you don’t have any immediate family. Support is here. Help is all around, whether it’s at the GP clinic, through support groups and helplines, or even at the airport via the immigration desk. But you must speak out,” she added.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact National Sexual Violence, Domestic and Domestic Violence Counseling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or call 000 in an emergency.
If you need a free interpreter call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.