KARACHI: Two young women have emerged from five years of captivity at the hands of their own brother. Their sister did not survive the ordeal.
Tabasum, 36, Saima, 22 and Seema spent this hellish time detained in a tiny, dark, filthy room in their own house in North Karachi’s Bilal Colony. They were rescued with the help of the Karachi Madadgar helpline group that works on human trafficking and other rights abuses.
At a press conference on Tuesday, their sister Shaheen told the media that the three women were held hostage by their brother Nasir and his wife Lubna. “[They did it] in order to grab the house left behind by our mother four years ago.”
Their captors shoved polythene bags of food and water though a small hole. Seema did not survive the abuse and died two years into their confinement. “When we rescued Tabassum and Saima they could not even utter a few words because of the severe mental stress,” said Shaheen.
She alleged that Lubna had been married before and a son from her first marriage used to sexually abuse the three girls. “Whenever we tried to rescue our cousins, the police filed fake cases against us, as the investigating officer was supporting Nasir and Lubna,” their cousin Arsalan explained.
It was Arsalan’s idea to approach Madadgar on October 6. Project coordinator Zia Ahmed Awan and his team lodged a case with the Bilal Colony police. But the officers refused to issue a letter that would have sanctioned the victims’ medical check-ups. It was only when the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee helped that the women were taken to the doctor. And the examination revealed severe mental and physical torture along with sexual abuse.
Awan demanded that the home minister and police chief suspend the investigation officer who deliberately lodged a case of illegal confinement instead of sexual abuse, torture and murder.
Sold by her father
In a second case discussed at the press conference, 14-year-old girl Sakeena, her face shrouded in a black veil, recounted how she escaped indentured labour in a bungalow in Defence View after she was sold by her father in 2001.
“On Sunday I managed to escape from the house when they were sleeping,” she said.
Her father, Saddiq, sold her along with her brother and two younger sisters after their mother’s death. Her new ‘owners’ used to beat her and threatened to have her locked away for theft if she tried to escape.
Madadgar’s Zia Awan said that they wrote a letter to the DIG South and requested the Baloch Colony SHO to take action against the house owners. The case included human trafficking, kidnapping and the sale and purchase of women and yet the police claim that they cannot charge them. “[The woman who kept them] came to the Madadgar office the day before and threatened our staff,” Awan alleged.
Awan also felt that Sakeena’s father, a resident of Jaranwala, should be arrested.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.