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Women centre’s staff accused of abuse

By Waseem Ahmad Shah

PESHAWAR, July 30 2005: A teenage girl has accused two employees of a government-run women’s crisis centre of sexually abusing its inmates and said she left the shelter to save herself from the notorious men.

The 14-year-old destitute from Bannu, Safia, who escaped from the women’s crisis centre on July 13, told the court of judicial magistrate Shah Hussain on July 28 that she had informed the in-charge about the shameful activities, but her complaints were ignored.

Ms Tasleem, another inmate, told the court that she also had escaped the centre because she felt insecure there. She said she felt threatened from her family members and had come to the centre. But, she added, she had to escape from the centre because they were going to hand her over to her family.

The court sent the two girls to the Edhi centre and asked the authorities concerned to produce them after 15 days. The court ordered a police officer of the Hayatabad police station, Yahya Jan, to investigate the charges.

Notably, crisis centre official Tahira Ali had lodged a complaint with the Hayatabad police on July 13 about the disappearance of Ms Safia and Ms Tasleem. Police recovered the girls two days ago, recorded their statements and produced them before the court on Thursday.

Safia said her mother died when she was two-and-a-half years old while her father passed away about two years ago. The girl has no brother or sister or grandparents.

“After the death of my father I started living with my cousins. I earned Rs5,500 by working as a maid in various houses in the locality but they (cousins) deprived me of the money and compelled me to leave their house. I came to Peshawar,” she said.

About one-and-a-half months ago, she said, Bana Mari police took her into custody and got her admitted to the crisis centre.

“The people in the centre are bad. So I decided to leave the place to protect myself from them,” Safia said. She named Rahat and Naseem, attendants of the incharge of the centre, as the main culprits. ‘I have seen Rahat committing zina with a girl in the centre. Naseem knocked several times at the door of my room and offered me Rs3,000 for illicit relations, but I refused.”

She said she had brought the matter to the notice of in-charge, but she rebuked her.

Nineteen-year-old Tasleem who is pregnant hails from Dara Adamkhel. She said she was married about two years ago to Tilawat Khan who allegedly mistreated her and often beat her up. She left his house and went to her parents, but they did not allow her to live with them. She then came to Peshawar and contacted a lawyer who helped her get into the crisis centre. She said when her family learnt about her presence there they contacted the centre’s officials who arranged her meeting with them.

Talking to this correspondent, a sobbing Tasleem alleged that her maternal uncle Gul Hassan bribed the crisis centre’s officials, Hina and Tahira, to hand her over to her uncle.

Tasleem said she feared her uncle would kill her so she escaped from the centre.

Meanwhile, The NWFP government on Friday ordered an inquiry into the allegations. Both Safia and Tasleem have been kept in the women police station as the Edhi Welfare Home declined to provide shelter to them.

Source: Dawn

Date:7/30/2005

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