LAHORE: After a 16 year fight to bring the people accused of raping her to justice, a woman has withdrawn her case out of sheer frustration and social constraints.
“I tried my best to bring culprits to book, but it was all in vain. Fed up of the complications in judicial system, she decided to refrain from further proceedings.
Batool* told The Express Tribune that she was also under pressure from her husband who asked that she not appear before the court. The victim decided to protect her married life.
The woman told the court, through an affidavit, that she was leading a peaceful life and did not want to appear before court for a statement which may affect her marriage. She stated she has no objection if the accused are acquitted of the charges.
Batool also got recorded her statement before a police official who visited her home. The woman confirmed she was not willing to appear before the court due to domestic issues.
Prosecution witness Reema*, the mother of the victim, recorded her statement before the court. She said her daughter was just eight or nine-years-old when she was sexually assaulted.
Ashfaq and Shoukat Ali allegedly raped the woman on October 6, 2000 and were being separately tried as the latter was a juvenile at the time.
An anti-terrorism Court sentenced the two to death on July 21, 2001. An appeal was lodged against the decision at the Lahore High Court, which, on May 20, 2002, acquitted the accused due on the benefit of doubt.
A criminal appeal was filed at the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the LHC order. On March 18, 2014, the SC, setting aside the impugned judgment, sent the matter back to the sessions judge to be decided in accordance with the law keeping in view the provisions of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000. Shoukat Ali was a minor at the time of the incident.
Subsequently, the counsel for the accused filed an application under section 265-K Cr.PC for the acquittal of the accused. Meanwhile, the complainant also had no objection if the suspects were acquitted.
According to an FIR registered by Ehsanullah, the father of the victim, he was out to meet his relatives when his daughter was abducted by Ashfaq and Shoukat Ali. He added both of them took her to a workshop and assaulted her. Reema was passing through the area and started a hue and cry call for help. That is when Batool was released and the victim said she was raped.
*NAME CHANGED TO PROTECT IDENTITY
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2017.