SINDH: On the 28th of October 2019, an eleven year old girl was raped within the walls of a mosque in Pano Akil, Sukkur. The perpetrator, Shafqat Samejo, was the imam of the mosque.

The girl’s father attempted to register an FIR against the Imam on the 31st of October, but the police had instead asked him to have the victim undergo a medical examination instead.

The incident came to widespread attention when the father and daughter were filmed outside the hospital. The girl attempted to relate the incident, but could only go as far as recalling that the imam had shut the doors and windows, and pressed a hand against her mouth.

The father claimed that the imam had raped her multiple times. The girl had first complained of bodily pain but the parents were initially unaware as to the cause.

A still from the interview showing the father and child embracing in despair stirred sympathy for the victim, and outrage against the injustice on social media.

The Minister of Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, took notice of the incident. In a twitter post, Mazari confirmed that the accused was in custody. An FIR has been registered against Samejo under Section 376 of the PPC.

Section 376 of the PPC (Punishment for Rape) states that whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years or more that 25 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Subsection (3) of 376 PPC outlines that whoever commits rape of a minor or a person with mental or physical disability shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and fine.

Cruel Numbers, published by Sahil, provides a yearly report on child abuse cases compiled from 85 regional and national newspapers. In 2018, there were 3832 reported cases of child abuse, an 11% increase from 2017 in the total. Incidents of child rape were up by 15% compared to the preceding year.

 

Authored by Ayesha Nazar