While the President of our neighbouring country went about accusing his country women of getting themselves raped just for mere abroad travel & citizenship, maybe it's time that someone put gun on his head and made him see the actual reasons behind the rapes and made him realise the plight and agony suffered by these women. Islam protects the rights of all individuals and rape by force is punishable by death in Islam yet incidents like these are happening one after another and that too on the orders of Jirgas and law enforcers in Pakistan. Most of the cases are taken up by media. Government usually tries to pacify the people by suspending few officials and making tribunals however, battle for justice proves to be very long and in most cases culprits get themselves free due to various loop holes in the system. Issues like these are usually handled by adhoc measures and conventional lethargic attitude.
We have heard brave stories of some Pakistani women such as Mukhtar Mai & Shazia Khalid, who decided to get up and fight against the corrupt system and make their voice heard around the globe, in the hope that if not them atleast the younger generation of Pakistani women would one day be in safe hands of a government that would look at them as humans and not just mere objects.
Another brave women, fighting against the system is Sonia Naz. The tale of Sonia Naz, the latest case of alleged gang-rape in Pakistan highlights the very fact of a growing willingness among many women in this devout Islamic country to report such crimes.
Sonia's ordeal began nearly six weeks ago in the industrial city of Faisalabad, about 200 km west of Lahore, when her husband, Asim, was arrested by police. Asim, a low-level clerk in the revenue department, was involved with nearly a dozen other officials in a corruption case. Most senior officials initially arrested were soon free. Asim, on the other hand, seems to have vanished - and while his family paid many bribes, and Sonia, expecting her second child at the time, repeatedly visited the police station - the young man was never located.
In despair, Sonia, in April of this year, turned up at the national assembly in the capital, Islamabad, leaving her two small children with her sister in Lahore. "I hoped to meet Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and tell him my story. I was certain he would help," she said. Sonia, barely educated and unaware of protocol, was accidentally waved forward by a security guard right into the chamber, where she took her place among the legislators. When her presence was noticed, the bewildered Sonia was dragged away by guards, taken to a police station and charged with breaking into the assembly.
After being released following pressure from journalists and rights activists, she was re-arrested in Lahore in May, where she says she was repeatedly raped, stripped naked, beaten and abused by her police captors, despite her pleas for mercy. After her story was published, the prime minister and President Pervez Musharraf swiftly intervened to order an inquiry and the suspension of Superintendent Khalid Abdullah and Inspector Jamshed Chishti of the Lahore police, allegedly involved in the sexual assault.
Sonia's case demonstrates a growing determination on the part of many Pakistani women to fight back against violence. The times when women, fearing social stigma, refused to report such crimes or were too scared and ashamed to do so seem to be changing. The HRCP (Human Rights Commission Pakistan) said it had details of more than 250 incidents of rape and gang-rape in the first six months of 2005 alone. The fact that the figures are significantly higher than in the same period of 2004 is put down to an increase in the reporting of such crimes by victims.
It's time that the General opened his eyes and mind and saw to it that the victims are given the full protection of the law and not ostracized, imprisoned or killed for staining family "honor".
(*Source - IRIN Asia)