Thursday, May 03, 2007

Women's Rights in Pakistan: A P.R. Issue

Remember kids, all we need to do is make sure stuff like this appears on glossier paper since, you know, women's rights is more about marketing than basic human dignity.

A 12 year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and gang-raped by four Muslim men in Lahore, Pakistan on Easter Day. Less than a week later, a Christian man in Jamshoro district was threatened by a mob following allegations of Blasphemy.

According to a report from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), Shaheena Masih was kidnapped at around 10am on 8 April as she went to a shop to buy her father some juice. The rest of her family were at church, but Shaheena and her elderly father had stayed at home because he was unwell.

On her way to the shops, four men grabbed Shaheena and placed a handkerchief over her mouth. She fell unconscious, but when she woke up she found herself in a factory. The four men raped her, and then locked her in a room. One of the rapists allegedly told his accomplices: “Don’t hesitate to rape a Christian girl. Even if she dies, no one will get us. Her poor parents cannot pursue us.”

According to APMA, while in the locked room Shaheena found a mobile phone lying on the floor, and called her brother. However, while she was talking to him, her kidnappers entered the room, seized the telephone and beat her very badly. She was then taken to a brothel.

Shaheena was rescued by Nishtar colony police officers after her family had traced the mobile phone call and located the address of the owner. He confessed to the kidnap, and assisted the police in returning Shaheena to her family. APMA claims she returned to her home two days after she was kidnapped, “bleeding profusely and in a pathetic condition”. Shaheena was taken to Lahore General Hospital for a medical examination, but the police refused to give her family the medical report.

The four men were arrested and the police registered a case against them under Article 496-A/376 of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, three were subsequently released and police are reportedly under pressure from the kidnappers not to pursue the case.


NB said...

Acha btw I never asked you, now that the WPT is in place, what should follow in your opinion in terms of contributing towards remedying the issue? (i.e the way to enforce the act and beyond)

Ahsan said...

better oversight of police procedures, more call and rape centers spread in remote locations (many times women dont report rapes simply because they have to trek 200 miles to do so), grassroots action with govt/ngo representatives explaining the new laws to local people (many of whom, i suspect, dont even know/care the law's been changed) and a massive transplant of social norms. only the fourth is impossible.

that's all i have for now. what do you think?

NB said...

I agree (just dont name them rape centers)

Seriously though, there should be prompt medical examinatons, and maybe also a central reporting cell at the provincial tier, where medical evidence and the complaint can be relayed immediately to ensure that the oversight over the police can swing in to place from the central or provincial or governerial tier immediatley. The oversight should focus on the investigating officer (IO) who prepares the FIR. Im not sure what the best means for overseeing him should be really, its pretty tricky. I guess itd probably be best to commission a study on how best to go about tackling this problem during enforcement and investigation and oversight.

As for social norms, i think we should start having a sexual awareness week in Pakistan once a year(possibly under a different heading), where the media can raise awareness on family planning (in my mind our number one national priority, superceding security even), Aids & more importantly hepatitis (10 million infectees), Rape, and Honour Killings. Have it co-sponsored by any sensible religious clery who are willing to cooperate and contribute, so that the messages are credible and not dismissed as an endorsment of promiscuity.

Or some stuff like that.

Anonymous said...

nb said "Seriously though, there should be prompt medical examinatons"

Does nb live in cloud-cuckooland?

When did Pakistan acquire a primary healthcare system?

NB said...


Thats why I said "should". If you feel that the victim of an alleged rape 'shouldnt' be given the right to support their case by obtaining evidence through a proper medical examination, Im eager to hear your reasons.

12:26 AM

Anonymous said...

I think women should form vigilante groups who castrate any man who is accused of rape in their neighbourhood!

You think a Pak guy can handle a dozen hot-blooded women armed with their sharpest knives?