HARIPUR: Official statistics suggest the number of rapes across the country is on the rise.
And teenager Natasha of Lub village in Wah Cantt is just another statistic. The girl who walks into room is stunningly beautiful. Fair-complexioned, with large doe-like hazel eyes and shoulder-length light brown hair, Natasha looks about 17 years old. And then she begins talking. It’s the speech of someone who’s been through a lot in a very short time. She speaks so fast, it’s hard to understand her at times. Her eyes flash as she gesticulates. And she’s very, very angry.
“My mother ran away from our home in February when our relatives told her they’d named her in the FIR filed in the murder case of my paternal uncle. That’s when the police came and took me away.” As it turned out, the FIR had not been registered. And the Taxila police, she says, kept her in custody and raped her repeatedly over the next 21 days. She was finally released on bail on the order of a district and sessions judge, after which the Lahore High Court took suo moto notice of her case.
Soon after, she underwent a medical exam, which proved her claim of having been raped. Since the case came to light, Taxila sub inspector Mumtaz and other policemen Natasha named have been suspended and a case has been registered against them. However, only two of the accused have been arrested so far. “The government needs to bring my rapists to justice so that other girls don’t suffer like me,” she says as she tends to her two younger brothers. One is about 13, the other is about nine.
Her father has wandered out of the small house after having given the umpteenth interview to a TV channel. “To tell you the truth, right now, I’m more worried about my mother; I haven’t seen her since that day in February… I don’t even know if she’s dead or alive,” she says. Her voice is curiously dispassionate as she speaks. Meanwhile, everyone, from President Asif Zardari to PPP politician Sherry Rehman, from parliamentary commission for human rights chairman Riaz Fatyana has promised to look into the circumstances of the case. But the hardy villagers of Lub aren’t too impressed by the names.
They are, instead, wondering about the efficacy of the criminal justice system. “If the democratic government and the penal code are incapable of providing justice, Shariah laws are the only hope left for people like us,” says one villager bitterly. “At least the Taliban are quick in dispensing justice; one doesn’t have to spend a lifetime waiting for justice.”
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.
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