Australia’s Pakistani community ‘in disbelief’ after woman allegedly axed to death by father-in-law

This article contains references to domestic violence.
Australia’s Pakistani community is “saddened” and “in disbelief” after an Australian woman was allegedly axed to death in northern Pakistan by her father-in-law, who refused to let her return to Perth with her three children.
Sajida Tasneem had reportedly felt pressured by her husband, Ayub Ahmad, to leave their Perth home in 2017 and relocate to Pakistan, according to a news report by BBC Urdu.
She had wanted to return to Australia but her parents-in-law opposed the move, allegedly confiscating Ms Tasneem’s and her children’s passports, according to news reports and sources close to the family.
In a Pakistani police report verified by The Age, Ms Tasneem’s father, Sher Muhammad Khan, claimed his daughter had been arguing with her father-in-law, Mukhtar Ahmad, about her plans to return to Australia when he attacked her at the family home in Sargodha.

Ms Tasneem’s husband was reportedly working in Bahrain at the time.


A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said on Monday the department had 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 statement read.
President of the Pakistan Overseas Community in Australia, Aqeel Shah, said Ms Tasneem, who had moved to Perth in 2013, considered Australia her home and was well known and much loved among Australia’s Pakistani community.
Shortly after she arrived, she had set up an online community to help other women from Pakistan settle into their new lives in Australia.

“She wanted to help those coming here to have a good life,” Mr Shah told SBS News.


“She was very much respected and loved in the community, because of her empathy for other people.
“The community is now saddened and in disbelief.”
While Mr Shah didn’t know Ms Tasneem personally, he has been in touch with her father in the wake of the tragedy regarding Ms Tasneem’s children, who were Australian citizens.

The children were currently at Ms Tasneem’s father’s home in Faisalabad, west of Lahore, he said.

Muhammad Ibrahim, orginally from Lahore but based in Sydney, said Australia’s Pakistani community was in shock.
“This horrific incident has saddened myself and the Pakistani community to the core. I am short of words to express my grief,” he told SBS News.
Mr Ibrahim said the community had a responsibility to protect women from these incidents in the future and highlight the issue of domestic violence faced by migrant women.

“We need to do something so that nothing of that sort ever happens to any other Australian women. We need to empower our women in a way that no one in future can exploit them or take advantage of them wherever they are in the world.”


Yusuf (not his real name) studied engineering alongside Ms Tasneem in Karachi. He said the university community was in mourning over the news.
“When the details of this incident came out, it was complete disbelief and then it was nothing but sorrows,” he told SBS News.
Yusuf said it was sometimes challenging for women to return after living overseas to Pakistan, where women are expected to take care of their husband’s family.
“Sometimes this balance is so much tilted towards the husband’s parents,” he said.
“Regardless of how many years you are living abroad, once you get back, you need to understand that the customs are not going to change that that quickly.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit. In an emergency, call 000. 
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