Juveniles granted bail in sexual assault case
Two juveniles, aged 14 and 11, charged with sexually assaulting and filming a seven-year-old boy and sharing the video online have been granted bail by the Peshawar High Court on Friday.
Justice Mohammad Ijaz Khan accepted a joint petition of the two suspects on a surety bond of Rs100,000 each.
He added that in granting bail consideration was given to the fact that both suspects were schoolchildren themselves and that a 2021 Supreme Court judgement extended the benefit of the doubt where the case warranted, “including [during] pre-trial and even at the time of deciding whether accused is entitled to bail or not”.
The Alpuri police station in Shangla district registered the FIR on June 15, 2022, under sections 377 (unnatural offence) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code along with sections 48 (child pornography) and 54 (sexual abuse) of the Khyber Paktunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010.
The complainant, the victim’s father, learned about the sexual assault after being made aware of the video through social media. Upon inquiry, his son admitted that he was assaulted when he went out to the forest to collect firewood and did not disclose it as the suspects threatened to kill him if he told anyone.
The bench observed that although the prosecution had levelled allegations under Section 377 of the PPC against the suspects, there was no medico-legal examination of the victim nor any other evidence to support it as the alleged sexual assault wasn’t witnessed but instead caught on camera. He noted that expert opinion on the video’s originality required further probe.
Foul play suspected in maid’s death
The Baloch Colony police on Friday opened a probe into the death of a young maid who fell from a pedestrian bridge after the husband and mother-in-law gave conflicting accounts of the incident.
The 18-year-old young woman, Sawera Adeel, mysteriously fell to her death from the Baloch Colony Bridge on Shahrah-e-Faisal on Thursday.
Police became suspicious after hearing conflicting stories from witnessing family members, with one stating that she tripped and fell while the other asserted that she committed suicide.
The woman’s husband, Adeel who works as a labourer, told the police that his wife works as a maid with his mother. When the rain started, they took leave and were heading home to Umar Colony. As they were climbing the stairs his wife tripped and fell to her death.
In contrast, Saweera’s mother-in-law stated to the police that she committed suicide.
After the incident occurred, police and rescue workers shifted the body of the woman, who had died on the spot, to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for post-mortem.
The police have launched an investigation into the incident.
Rising suicide among young Chitrali women
A report by the Pakistan Journal of Criminology alerts of the rise of suicide among women as compared to men in the Chitral region due to issues of domestic violence, academic failure and family pressure for marriage.
According to a recent report titled ‘Rising Trend of Suicides among Youth in Chitral: A Sociological Analysis’, 176 people committed suicide in the Chitral region from 2013 to 2019 out of which 102 (58 per cent) were women.
The study, conducted by professors Noor Sanauddin and Dr Imran Sajid of the University of Peshawar and Zafar Ahmad of Jehanzeb College Swat, notes how the most vulnerable are young people between ages 15-30.
As per the authors, the tendency for suicide decreased sharply for both men and women aged 40 and above.
Furthermore, in terms of risk women are more likely to kill themselves due to societal, academic and familial pressures. As the report suggests, “the situation is more severe for young women as social-cultural taboos restrict their choices”. Triggering factors include issues with family members, in-laws, violence by brothers or husbands, forced marriages, academic failure and pressure for professional success as the major factors triggering suicide among women.
The report also highlights how education is considered vital for social mobility in the Chitral district thereby creating a culture where success is glorified and underachieving is demonised.
Such a culture results in intense stress for young people who may then opt for the drastic measure of ending their life. On one occasion, six female students committed suicide less than a week after their exam results.
Additionally, the study suggests that the community’s sympathetic response towards the victim, condemnation of potential perpetrators, and surrendering to demands of suicide survivors was creating a situation where anger internalised by young people was more readily expressed in the form of suicide.
Researcher Zafar Ahmed noted that their analysis of suicide cases in Chitral was in light of French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide. He further pointed out that there had been a drastic social change to the traditional culture of the region which may have some influence as young people living in modern times grappled with centuries-old local traditions in a geographically isolated region.