February 24th, 2021
By Baseer Qalandar
In a cell phone photograph that was taken for the record, a tiny body lies on the grass, covered in a checkered sheet. A couple of marigold emoticons have been strategically placed on her face, to hide the more macabre sight which could easily render anyone’s nights sleepless. It is the dead body of an eight-year-old little girl, who was raped before she was killed.
Like Kasur’s Zainab, Khuzdar’s Amir Hamza, and Karachi’s Mawra, eight-year-old Minahil from Nowshera too was raped and murdered.
She is just one name out of the thousands of little children who have met untimely and gruesome deaths by their abusers and perpetrators.
Minahil’s uncle Shahzeb says that on December 27, 2018, Manahel, a resident of Nawan Kalay was abducted from her way to the madrassa from her house. The next day her mutilated body was found in a graveyard, near her home.
“Early in the morning, we were asked by the police to come to the adjoining graveyard and check if the mutilated body they had found, was our child’s,” says the girl’s uncle. “When we went there, we found it was her.”
Minahil’s uncle told Voicepk.net that after the incident, when their world had come crumbling down on them, several high-ranking officials, including provincial and federal ministers, had assured him that the killer would be caught and punished. But even after two years, the case is still ongoing, and no ray of hope seems to shine through. The family now believes that they will never be given the justice that they have been searching for.
“Terrorism cases are resolved within 3 months,” he says. “It’s been two years and our case is still under trial, even in the Anti-Terrorist Court? So what kind of law is this?”
“Ministers Parvez Khattak and Shaukat Yousufzai both assured us of justice, but in vain,” said her father. “I myself am a small time laborer. The day I go to court, I have to take leave from my daily work, and I don’t get any daily wages that day.”
According to Malik Maqsood Ali, Deputy Director of Human Rights Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says that justice should not be delayed to this extent, especially since lockdown began. He says that justice must be given to those children who have been sexually abused and killed.
“The lack of justice in cases of child sexual abuse and murder is a matter of concern,” he says. “Routine cases should not be delayed to such an extent, but its not in our hands, neither can the department do anything about it. is all about what the high court orders and what has to be done but we liaison with them.,” he says.
According to Sahil, an NGO that works on data of child sexual abuse cases, 91 children were sexually abused in KP in the first six months of 2020.
Mamtaz Gohar, Executive Director of the Child Rights’ Movement (CRM) which is a national platform for all the child rights organizations says that along with women, children too were in an extremely vulnerable position under COVID lockdown last year. He says that many children were living in enclosed spaces with their abusers most of who tended to be family members.
Under the international agreement, Pakistan is bound to give equal access to justice to its citizens, but for Minahil’s parents, their lives have been ruined forever with the rape and murder of their little girl that too in broad daylight. Then again their failure to get justice from the system even after two years have passed is a blemish in the name of the justice system.