By Ahmed Saeed
In order to protect the reputation of her family, a girl allowed herself to be raped for 18 months continuously.
For a year and a half, Lahore’s Noor* was raped and tortured by her neighbor Amanat Ali, who also blackmailed her into silence.
The tale of this oppression started in 2018 when Ali abducted Noor at gunpoint and took her to his friend Qasim’s house and raped her there. She was just 13 at that time. The culprit also made videos and took inappropriate photos of the rape survivor and threatened her that he would upload them on the internet if she dared tell anyone about this incident.
Ali then used these photos and videos to blackmail Noor and coerced her to have sexual intercourse on a regular basis. He used to either take the girl to his place or intruded her house at night to rape her.
“When I said to him that I would not continue doing this and would inform my mother about all this, he threatened to send my photos to all the neighbors and to upload them on Facebook.
Amanat Ali also said to me that he would kill my mother and rape my sisters too,” Noor told voicepk.net
On 3rd April 2020, Ali trespassed Noor’s house and raped her. But on his way out, her mother Salma*, a widow, caught him red-handed. Salma made a lot of noise so that the neighbors could gather around and ultimately the culprit was caught.
Salma wanted to register a First Information Report (FIR) in the police against Ali on charges of rape. Neighbors advised Salma to let Ali go and bury the matter otherwise they said the incident could bring ‘dishonor’ to the family.
The family of the accused offered money to Salma and asked her not to involve the police in the matter. But, she refused and lodged the FIR against Ali.
Soon after the registration of the FIR, the accused applied and received pre-arrest bail from a local court. Salma said that the accused is now threatening her of grave consequences if she does not withdraw the FIR.
“His (Ali’s) entire family is living here. People taunt me for what happened with my daughter,” she said, adding “It has become difficult for me to step out from my house but I am the only earning member of the family and I have to go outside to earn my livelihood.”
Although the police have registered the case and are investigating the matter Salma is not satisfied with their performance. According to her, the police at one point even made Noor and Ali sit together and asked Salma to leave the room.
When voicepk.net contacted SI Shafaq, who was part of the investigation team, and asked her why she tried to record the statements of the survivor and the accused together, Shafaq said that for her this was common practice and it was legal to do so.
“If a court can record the statements of both the accused and the survivor at the same time then I was right to record their statements by making them sit together,” insisted Shafaq. “However, I believe N went through a lot of pain and I will try my best to provide her justice.”
It is important to mention that in a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has made it mandatory for the police to visit the rape survivor’s house for ascertaining facts in the presence of her relatives/family members. The court also directed the police to be very cautious while recording the statement of the survivor.
Salma also feared that the police wanted to shut this case by declaring that Noor and Ali had a relationship and they maintained the physical relationship out of their free will.
“The police asked my daughter whether she was in love with him,” said Salma. “She is so young how can she even know what love even means. One police officer asked my daughter to stand up and turn her body so that he could assess her physique,” said Salma.
Since Salma cannot afford the expenses of the case, Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) is now pursuing the case pro bono. Anas Mashood who is a law associate at AGHS told voicepk.net that since the survivor is a minor, the point that she did it with consent has no legal value.
“The law is very clear on this issue. Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) defines rape and its Subsection 5 clearly states that a minor cannot consent to do intercourse. So there is a presumption in our law if a minor on the face of it consented, then even that will not be considered as a legal consent,” Mashood said.
Although the chain of tragic events has affected the mental health of Noor she still wants to live a normal life. All she wants is that the culprit is taken to task.
“Unless he does not go behind bars, I cannot restart my life”, Noor said.
*Note: We have changed the name of the survivor and her mother to protect their identity.