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In Pakistan, Woman Says Husband Beat Her And Shaved Her Head For Refusing To Dance

A Pakistani woman has accused her husband of stripping her naked, shaving her head and beating her with a plastic pipe when she refused to dance for him and his friends.

With her face visibly bruised, Asma Aziz described the alleged attack in a video posted online last week.

"He took my clothes off in front of his servants. The servants held me as he shaved my hair off and burned it. My clothes were bloody. I was bound by a pipe and hung from the fan. He threatened to hang me naked," she said, according to the BBC.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports that the husband, Mian Faisal, and an employee were taken into custody after the video of Aziz went viral on social media. Aziz says in the video that when she reported the incident to police, they instead asked her for money. The police have denied that they failed to take action, Dawn reports. A magistrate said he would rule on the case after Aziz's medical report is completed.

The alleged attack took place at the couple's home in an upscale district of Lahore.

Aziz's husband told police that Aziz had cut her own hair while on drugs, and that he had only helped her complete the job, according to the BBC.

In a statement made in court last week, Aziz said she had married Faisal four years ago, and he quickly turned hostile.

Faisal said last week that he wanted to tell his version of events. "You [the media] have been advocates for Asma for the past one week — give an hour to me and listen to what I have to say," he told reporters. "I will accept any punishment I am given."

The case has stirred a conversation about consent and spousal abuse in Pakistan, which is ranked 150 out of 153 countries in Georgetown University's global index of women's well-being and empowerment. According to the Georgetown report, 27 percent of Pakistani women report that they have experienced intimate partner violence.

Amnesty International said that it was pleased that police had taken action in the case, but that it wasn't enough: "[W]e note with dismay the alarming rise in reported cases of violence against women. Systemic change to protect women is necessary. Action can't only be taken on a case-by-case basis."

On Twitter, many accounts circulated an undated video in which Aziz is seen dancing, and used it to question her credibility.

Pakistani actress Sanam Saeed criticized those who blamed Aziz. "It's like saying if a prostitute was raped its her fault anyway. When will some of you really understand the meaning of consent???"

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.