By: Saher Baloch
Not even an 18-month-old infant is safe from the clutches of sexual predators who seem to be raping young children with impunity, as the indifferent attitude of law enforcement agencies gives such criminals a free hand to fulfil their perverted desires.
Sara Zaman, an official of the War Against Rape (WAR), says that the youngest rape victim she saw was an 18-month-old baby girl, who was assaulted a year ago. She adds that even if they are not killed by their rapists, children of such an age usually succumb to internal injuries suffered during the assault.
The most recent case of a child being raped and brutally murdered was that of six-year-old Alishba and it was not until the family protested vociferously outside the Edhi Mortuary after receiving her tortured body with an eye gouged out, did authorities bother taking them seriously.
The minor girl was abducted a few days ago “by a camel rider” from a playground opposite her house, according to the initial investigation and neighbours. The DSP investigating the case has assured Alishba’s devastated father that the perpetrators “would be arrested within three days.”
The father, Nazeer, was enraged over the fact that the postmortem was carried out without his permission, during which, he alleged, one of her eyes was taken out. The protest was against, what the family believed, a botched autopsy at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
As the police investigate, a number of questions have raised, but few have been answered. The question haunting the bereaved father is: what his daughter did to deserve such a fate?
“At home, it is complete chaos. I cannot think of what to tell my wife, who will ask questions the second I enter the front door,” Nazeer says, allowing his tears to roll off with the blink of an eye.
There is an alarming increase in child rape and sodomy cases, with three such incidents being reported in the last week alone. On all three occasions, the children were raped before being killed and their bodies were dumped in bushes.
According to data collected by WAR, from the period of January till June, this year, 41 cases of rape have been reported and the number of younger children being assaulted is on an alarming rise. The report reveals that 27 percent of the rape cases in the last six months involve children aged between six and eleven years.
In most instances, families lack the financial means to pursue the cases, but despite being a labourer, Nazeer is adamant to seek justice from the courts. Although FIR (2061/2011) has been registered with the Jauharabad police station, it will only count for something once the Challan is registered in court, Zaman points out.
But with 372 cases already pending in the courts, it seems unlikely that six-year-old Alishba’s case will come up for hearing anytime soon. Some cases are awaiting evidence, while others “lack an eyewitness willing to testify.”
The WAR official said that while some families seek justice from the courts, a number of the cases are dropped by families as they fear the stigma attached to rape. The media pays a lot of attention to rape cases, but at the time of the actual court hearing, it fails to support the devastated families or surviving victims. In those cases in which the victim survives, the evidence is usually tampered with and this trend continues every step of the way.
Another major issue is the lack of medico-legal officers (MLOs) as there are only five in a city that houses a population of around 18 million people, Zaman says. She adds that these officers are “always in a rush as their job is not just limited to handling rape cases.
She highlighted the case of another six-year-old who was bleeding profusely after being raped. However, the MLO dubbed the case as a robbery and stated in her report that “the girl is at a menstruating age.”
There is also a huge disparity between medical examinations of rape victims and the number of FIRs actually registered with the police and this year told a similar story. The 138 medico-legal examinations compared to just 41 FIRs registered in 2011 “proves how many cases actually occur in the city,” Zaman adds.
Although Alishba’s family decided to come out and protest against the barbaric rape and murder of their six-year-old daughter, Nazeer says that other members of the girl’s family urged them to keep the incident under wraps. While he does not have the support of his relatives, the father is determined to seek justice for his daughter’s murder. “I don’t care if I am the only person protesting for what is right,” he says defiantly.
Source: The News