Saba Qaiser: On Forgiveness

Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women and men from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight unspoken, real-life insights on how they have been able to turn weakness into strength. A naked soul point of view of how their breakdowns were really a preparation for breakthroughs. They are your quintessential paradigm shifters; internal shifts converted into genuine change.

Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because, "What we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence, why Empowered by You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction and redirected that energy as a tool of empowerment.

I hope from these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens. At the very least you will be more equipped with real life tools to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day, we are our own Alchemist turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.

Saba Qasier

Why did your father and uncle lie to you with their hand on the Quran?
They said that what happened (my wedding to Qaiser) wasn't right.

How did you feel when they broke the oath that they wouldn't hurt you? How did you feel at the moment?
I knew then, that this wasn't going to be good.

Do you speak to anyone else in your family, apart from your mother?
I speak with my mother and sisters: Shazia, Aqsa and Nazia. The other two are getting married after Eid (Late September).

You said you have forgiven your father and uncle, but not in your heart. Do you ever have regrets about forgiving them in court?
Yes, I feel the same way. I forgave them in court but I know what they did was wrong.

Have you seen effects of the documentary in your daily life? Has your community changed their opinions on honor killing?
Yes, they at first said that this wasn't the right thing to do. But then, they tried to attack me, again, but I stood up to them.

So have their mindsets changed after this film?
Yes, but what did they do about it? Nothing.

Was there an effect of this film within your community?
There was, they (the community) were worried about an impending attack; but then when it happened a second time they remained silent.

What kind of person do you hope your son becomes?
He'll be absolutely perfect. We hope that he'll grow big, and he'll be a good person. We hope that he's learned, he gets a good job and there are no worries in his life.
Whoever he chooses to be with, I hope he has a good rapport with them.

Breakdown to breakthrough moment?
See I had forgiven them but I was feeling threatened. I did feel scared; I knew they had done the wrong thing, but then I said okay it's fine now, they've done it - but they won't do it again. But then, they did it again!

What do you want your legacy to be?
What will people think of me? The film has been shown so many times - but still nothing has happened to me yet. I know I'm famous now, I know everyone knows my name but what they did to me was not right - when they tried to kill me. It's because of Allah that I am safe, and if I had it my way I wouldn't have forgiven them - but it was they (the community) which made me come to a compromise.

So when people hear your name, what do you think they will think of you?
That's up to them - what they think of me.

Can you tell me about your sisters, and what is going on with them - given what your father said about them in the film.
The both of them are getting married - they will be getting married after Eid Ul Azha. They will be going to get married soon, and we were facing some difficulties and my mother was very worried for their wedding arrangements so she told Sharmeen. She asked for some help to get her daughters married and Sharmeen helped us (connected them to donors).

What are your father and uncle doing these days?
Saba: They are both in jail. They tried to attack me again.

How do you feel about that?
Nothing, I'm fine.
Yes they're in jail so I'm not worried because no one is here to hurt me. However I'm scared that they just might attack me sometime in the future.

Are you expecting another child soon - boy or girl?
I will be delivering after Eid - I asked about the sex of the baby and the doctors won't tell me. But I hope it's a girl, because if I have a son and a daughter that'll be just fine.

Do you want the girl to be like you?
I want her to be brave, I want her to be more than that - that she should be well educated and be involved in positive work.
She can be a doctor, what ever her heart desires. If she wants to be a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher; she's going to decide when she grows up; that's her decision.

So do you think it's good that the film was released?
I have no tension with this film being released, and I respect the hard work Sharmeen has done for it.

Tell us about the donations you received after the films release.
Our house is currently being constructed from the funds Sharmeen collected for us.

Are you and Qaiser happy?
Yes, this house is being made on my name and me, Yasir - my family - we will all move and live there once it's completed.

You have become a legacy in Pakistan, after all that you have been through; what message would you like to give to those reading this interview.
Just that, this should never happen to anyone - they shouldn't be worried when making their own decisions. They should be able to get married of their own choice.

Are you happy with your decision with marrying Qaiser?
Yes - I am happy. Thanks be to Allah.