MANSEHRA: A victim of sexual abuse — forced to enter into a marriage contract (nikah) with a married man allegedly with the help of the police — threatened on Sunday to set herself on fire if the culprits are not brought to justice.
Accompanied by Public Safety Commission member Gulnaz Shah, the victim, Anila* of Jaskran village, told media on Sunday that the Lassan Nawab Police Station House Officer (SHO) forced her to solemnise her nikah with Qari Mumtaz*.
Narrating her ordeal, the ninth grader said Mumtaz, a driver by profession, barged into her house with his father Qari Ehsaan* on March 5 and forcibly took her to a seminary. However, the seminary’s principal who was a relative of Mumtaz, allowed her to go back home with her mother.
“When I approached police to lodge a complaint on March 6, the SHO instead put my father in the lockup and started pressurising me to sign a nikah with Mumtaz,” she claimed.
Accusing the SHO of being “hell-bent on supporting the accused party”, the victim said she was forced into marriage the same evening. “The SHO threatened to implicate my father in fake criminal cases if I refused to marry Mumtaz,” she said.
Anila said the SHO arranged his own registrar and nikah khwan (contracting officer), after which she was taken to Tarapi, Mumtaz’s native village.
“I was kept in a locked room for a month during which he abused me. He even refused to take me to a doctor even though I was sick and kept begging him.”
Two days back, she managed to escape while Mumtaz was on a visit to Rawalpindi.
She urged the Peshawar High Court chief justice to take suo motu action against the SHO and the accused party and warned that she will set her self on fire if justice was not served.
The SHO, on the other hand, rejected the allegation, saying that Anila was in fact in a relationship with Mumtaz and had eloped with him to the seminary. Her mother then brought her home after receiving information that she was hiding there.
According to the SHO, both families agreed to marry Anila with Mumtaz, as her father believed pursuing a case would bring a bad name to his family.
“Her father wanted to settle the issue. The marriage took place with the consent of both families and her father was a witness who signed on the marriage contract,” he added.
He said the girl remained with Mumtaz for a month and two days back his brother brought her to her parents’ place as her mother was sick.
Mansehra District Police Officer initiated an inquiry into the incident, during which Deputy Superintendent of Police Shahnaz Khan and others including former nazims and councillors supported the SHO’s viewpoint.
They agreed that the marriage took place with the consent of both families and a proper ceremony was held.
*Names have been changed
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.