Ayman Udas, a rising female vocalist in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, was shot to death at her home, by her own brothers on April 27th 2009
Her death rattled the city’s jittery artistic community, as local musicians and dancers in Peshawar — a city renowned for its vibrant artistic life — face increasing pressure as the region falls under greater Taliban influence.
Some attributed Udas’s death to the Islamist militants, but her husband told reporters that his wife was killed because she broke family traditions.
A beautiful woman in her early 30s and mother of two, Udas recently remarried after a divorce. Her two brothers, Alamgir and Ismail, disapproved of her divorce, remarriage, and her artistic career, all of which disgrace a family’s name in conservative Islamic society.
The honor killing, an ancient tradition in which a male family member kills a female to “save” the family name and reputation took place on April 27 at the family’s home while Udas’s husband was out picking up milk. He immediately took the case to the authorities, who have made no arrests but raided several locations in search of the suspected killers.
Ayman had recently given her first television appearance. In one of her more popular songs, “Mra shum ashna khu pa jwando ki usam, janana sta pa waswaso ki usa,” she sings about the importance of courage, even to the point of defying death.
Her death “is absolutely unacceptable,” Ahmad Ali Adil of the University of Peshawar told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, calling the crime “a murder of humanity.” He said that unless society changes, several other female performers will face similar problems.
Meanwhile, artists are coming under direct threat in Taliban-controlled areas. In January, a dancer’s bullet-ridden body was left in the center of Swat Valley’s capital of Mingora — not far from where Udas grew up — with a note warning locals that “un-Islamic voices” will no longer be tolerated.
Ayman, a creative and talented woman, a promising poet, lyricist, singer and performer will be greatly missed.
A poem rose
From somewhere between the cracks of pain
Like a green stem rising upwards to the embrace the sun
Despite the arid desert harshness,
That does not allow one to breathe.
There was no rain,
But the words of that poem fell like rain,
As breaths of respite to the lost and lonely,
As glimpses of hope to hearts finding courage,
As a voice guiding wanderers back to God’s presence.
That lone stem called upon the clouds to release,
To release love,
upon a world starved of love.
You are that poem dearest,
And this harsh Earth released you free of form,
To rain down as freedom,
To defy hate in acts of courage,
So that our hearts will be strengthened
To set love free
As you are.
You are Earth’s poem.
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