KARACHI, February 25, 2005: When Doctor Shazia Khalid was brutally raped in her lodgings near Pakistan’s largest gas field it was not just a personal tragedy. It also sparked a tribal revolt that threatened to destablise the whole country.
But the very public nature of the 32-year-old’s plight has not made justice any more likely and she is now determined to flee the country, she said.
“It is not possible to live here freely and be accepted by society after what happened to me,” said the doctor, who agreed to waive her right to anonymity after her name appeared in local media.
“So maybe if we go abroad we can begin a new life, though I may not forget the incident for the rest of my life. It is devastating, it destroyed my life, but it was my husband and my family who gave me strength to survive.”
Within few days of the incident, eight people were dead, thousands of troops were rushed to the area – and a shadowy group called the Balochistan Liberation Army said it had carried out the attacks in revenge for the rape of a doctor in a secluded township near the plant. Outraged tribal elders accused an army captain of the rape.. At the eye of the storm, however, was the private agony of Doctor Shazia, as she has become known through the often prurient coverage of the case in Pakistan.
“It is difficult to describe that horrifying night. He stayed in my room for over four hours. My eyes, mouth, hands were all tied up. But I can never forget his voice,” she said on telephone from a safe house at an undisclosed location in Karachi. “I also heard the voice of another person who might have been guarding the gate. I resisted and got hurt in the process but there was little I could do. By the time I recovered it was around six in the morning. My clothes were all covered in blood and I was not feeling well.”
The doctor went to see officials at the plant but again became a victim – this time of a cover-up and attempted intimidation, she said.
Officials told her she would be arrested if she went to the police, while her bloodstained clothes disappeared after she was given tranquillisers, she added.
“My employers tried to hide the case and are responsible for letting the culprits get away with it,” she said.
Since then, a number of people including some gas company employees have been arrested in connection with the attack and provincial authorities have launched a major investigation. But the army captain remains free.
The government, despite suspecting a foreign hand behind the attacks, has in fact made conciliatory gestures towards the tribesmen, although the situation remains unstable. Meanwhile Dr Shazia has had to deal with outdated concepts of family honour that still run through the society, on top of the trauma of the rape.
Dr Shazia’s husband said his grandfather put him under immense pressure to divorce her and even threatened that she would be killed for dishonour. “But I had a moral responsibility towards her. Her mother, sisters and family also supported her,” he said.
Dr Shazia said, “It was a double trauma for me after that threat from Khalid’s grandfather but he stood by my side and is still resisting all kind of pressure and I really thank him for all this.” Her husband said she had not yet recovered. “She often gets disturbed at night. She wakes up when she hears any voice, sound or even strong winds, and asks me not to switch off the lights,” he added. The doctor’s case is the just tip of the iceberg, said Anis Haroon, Aurat Foundation president.
“She could have committed suicide if her family had not supported her. Or she could have been killed in the name of honour, as happens to many girls in the feudal system here,” she said
Dr Shazia said she had given up all hope that her attacker would be put behind bars. “I am not expecting anything from the justice system,” she said. “I have left justice to Allah, and I spend most of the time praying.”
Source: Daily Times