May 30, 2023
A local court has granted the police a three-day judicial remand of Atiq Khan for raping a 13-year-old girl, who later got pregnant and died at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar on May 27.
DNA samples were collected from the stillborn baby and the accused Atiq Khan, who was the victim’s neighbour in the Phandu area of Peshawar, for chemical analysis.
According to the police, however, he had confessed to raping the minor girl five months ago.
The girl’s parents did not lodge a first information report (FIR) after the assault. She was only rushed to the hospital after she suffered from a failed abortion attempt by an untrained lady health worker, where doctors were unable to save her and the baby’s life.
Investigation is underway, with police probing as to why the family wrote the wrong name and address on the hospital’s admission forms.
“We have arrested the primary accused. We will also proceed against all of those who were involved in the incident and conduct DNA tests. We will continue to arrest all accused after recording statements under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure code,” said a police statement.
The victim’s father, a labourer at a local fruit market, fled his residence after her demise. In a telephonic conversation with Voicepk.net, he said that the family does not want to discuss the incident as it was a matter of ‘honour’.
“We are all afraid. [The family] are poor people. But what happened is an injustice. The accused should be punished,”
said a neighbour. Other Phandu residents also said that there is fear and unease among them after the incident came to light.
Imran Takar, who runs an organization for the rights of children, said that the actual number of cases of sexual abuse and harassment of children may be nearly twice the number of reported cases, as families avoid reporting any incidents due to fear of social stigma.
He added that lapses in investigation, poor prosecution and out-of-court settlements contribute to dismally low conviction rates in such cases.
“Around 185 cases were reported in 2019 across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In 2022, the number was 365, which is a nearly 50% increase in cases of child sexual abuse,” he explained. “We can attribute this to an increase in reporting, but this can also very much mean that cases have increased as well.”
He stated that the community can play a role in preventing such crimes, but it is the state that has the ultimate responsibility to implement preventative measures.
“The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection Act 2010 established a Child Protection Commission as well as Child Protection Units in every division,” he told Voicepk.net. “But there is a pressing need for coordination between these units, capacity-building of all stakeholders and community awareness, especially regarding the rights of the child among parents, so that our children remain safe from all dangers.”
Per conservative estimates, cases of child sexual abuse and harassment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have increased manifold, with a reported 32% increase in just one year. Furthermore, the Child Protection Commission, constituted under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection Act 2010, remains defunct due to non-provision of funds.