BY: Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A woman who claimed to have been subjected to sexual exploitation, including gang rape, and was now being blackmailed, invited the attention of the Supreme Court on Friday to the heinous crimes committed also by members of law-enforcement agencies.
The woman from Khanpur Bagga Sher village of Muzaffargarh district invoked the jurisdiction of the apex court through her counsel Zulfikar Ahmad Bhutta under enforcement of fundamental rights, claiming that by doing so she intended to save a number of women who become victims of similar exploitation because of broken and ineffective law-enforcement mechanism in the country.
Advocate Bhutta told Dawn that he had moved the petition because it had become necessary to highlight such crimes being committed with impunity under the nose of the high-ups as well as police. He recalled that a few years ago net café scandals surfaced in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as a result of which many unfortunate girls were killed by their relatives to save family honour.
He said it had been stated in the petition that the petitioner was not the only woman who had been victimised but several others were facing a similar situation. Such crimes were spreading in Punjab rapidly also because no one dared to come forward, he added.
The petition requested the Supreme Court to direct the Punjab chief secretary and the inspector general of police to submit complete record of cases or FIRs in which a number of girls had been victimised through discreet snapping of indecent pictures or videos to blackmail them for sexual favours.
It also requested the court to order the high-ups to carry out investigations and prosecute the people involved in such heinous crimes and to ensure registration of similar cases by police under section 354-A of the PPC. The section deals with assaulting a woman or using criminal force against her and stripping her clothes and suggests life imprisonment as a sentence.
The petitioner also attached a copy of FIR she had registered in the Model City police station, Muzaffargarh, under sections 365B (kidnapping or inducing or compelling a woman for marriage), 376 (punishment under rape), 380 (theft) and 420 (cheating and dishonesty) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR lodged on March 26, the complainant joined a private security company near Faisal Stadium in Muzaffargarh in July 2015. A few weeks after taking up the job, she was asked by her ‘master’ that he would escort her to a ‘madam’ who will brief her about a field duty which was a requirement of her job. But instead of arranging the meeting with the woman, he took her to a vacant house where she was raped and subjected to indecent exposure before camera.
Later the employer started blackmailing her by threatening that if she failed to extend favours or ever informed anybody about the incident, he would upload the pictures on internet.
The FIR stated that on the next date her tormentor took her to another house where he, along with drunken members of a law-enforcement agency (police), sexually assaulted her. The police personnel warned her that if she failed to comply with their directions, her parents would be involved in heinous crimes.
The accused also introduced her on mobile phone to someone who claimed to be Muzaffargarh DPO. He also threatened her with dire consequences if she disclosed the incident to anyone.
According to the FIR, she was subjected to rape for eight months during which she and her family were threatened by the local police that they would be implicated in fake and forged cases. They even threatened to kill her on March 26 and got her signatures on a blank nikah form so that she could be exploited in future also.
The complainant stated that she had revealed the ordeal that she had undergone to save other women who were being subjected to similar treatment. She also threatened in the FIR that if she was denied justice, she would commit self-immolation outside the office of the Muzaffargarh District Police Office.