As the incident of a jirga-condemned woman being paraded naked through the streets of Haripur finally caught the attention of those in the corridors of power in Islamabad, police arrested four more suspects in the case on Thursday.
The Senate resonated with condemnations of the incident, which was brought to the legislators’ attention by Senator Farah Aqil.
Raising the issue in the house, Senator Aqil said that it was alarming because such acts were not isolated, and added that, hence, there was a dire need to ensure that the culprits involved were punished.
She also observed that, when such incidents are reported, no male member raises the issue and it is assumed that women members of the house should highlight it.
Senator Prof. Khursheed Ahmed also condemned the incident and asked for immediate action on it.
Leader of Opposition Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari also called for swift and serious action against the culprits, urging the government to play its part in ensuring that it happens.
Senator Ghulam Ali, in his comments, said that ‘Pakhtun society’ has a lot of respect for women and such acts are shameful, while Senator Muhammad Zahid asked for improving the law and order situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Over in Haripur, the case continued to unfold.
An alleged rape victim, who had earlier denied that she was ever assaulted, has been found pregnant by doctors in Haripur.
Sadia’s* alleged rape had resulted in Shaheen’s* jirga-endorsed punishment of being paraded naked through the streets. Shaheen’s son was the accused rapist.
“She is 12 weeks pregnant and carrying twins,” said Investigating Officer Shabbir Shah, quoting Dr Irshad Begum, a senior medical officer at the Women and Children Hospital in Haripur who conducted the pregnancy test on the police’s request.
Sadia, 24, had earlier denied that she had conceived out of wedlock, a charge for which a jirga had ordered that her husband, Shabbir*, divorce her. On the instigation of the same jirga, Shabbir and his three brothers had forced Shaheen to strip naked and parade in the streets as the jirga had found her son Karim* and his cousin Arshad* guilty of raping Sadia.
However, on Thursday, Sadia was brought in for a pregnancy test where Dr Irshad Begum found her to be pregnant. She had been referred to Ayub Medical Complex, Abbottabad, for further verification where the gynaecologist on duty also endorsed the report and suggested a DNA test of the foetus and Sadia’s former husband Shabbir to determine the children’s father.
Police have arrested four accused in the case. Three principal accused were arrested in Lahore while the head of the jirga was arrested in Haripur.
Those arrested include Azlan*, Salman* and Irfan* while their elder brother Masroor* is still at large. Police have also arrested Shahid Abbasi*, an arms dealer by profession who headed the jirga. Two other jirga members, Rameez Khan* and Altaf*, who were on physical remand for four days, were sent on judicial remand to Haripur jail on Thursday.
*Names have been changed
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2011.