PAKISTAN: Rape victim held against her will for months must be freed


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-009-2008
ISSUES: Police violence, Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a female was severely beaten by the police and, raped by her cousin in open view in August 2007 in Punjab province, Pakistan. She miscarried due to police’s beatings and later underwent a forced abortion when she became pregnant after having been raped repeatedly by her cousin. Her husband and two brother-in-laws have been charged with abduction. She has been continuously held in chains against her will in the cousin’s house for marrying with a person of her own choice.


Ms. Shahnaz Akhtar is a master’s degree holder from Multan’s Bahauddin Zakariya University. She was also teaching in Sahiwal District, Punjab province. According to the information received, when she was teaching in a school, she came to know about her father’s plan to have her marry her cousin, Tanvir whom she didn’t like.

On 11 September 2006, Shahnaz decided to marry her husband Ghulam Mustafa on her own initiative and entered into marriage at a district court in Okara, Punjab province without her parent’s knowledge. After getting married to Ghulam, Shahnaz went back to her home town and started living with her parents. Her parents, however, were not aware that she is already married to Ghulam as she was not prepared to tell them.

Few months later, she decided to properly inform her father and stepmother that she had already married Ghulam Mustafa. After her parents learned of this fact, they were shocked and immediately thereafter announced that she should be forced to marry her cousin, Mr. Tanvir.

On 18 July 2007, the night before the planned forced marriage with her cousin, Shahnaz ran away and went to Ghulam’s place in Ghar Morr in Jhang district. She started living with him as his wife. Because Shahnaz’s family is wealthy, her relatives used their influence and money by co-opting policemen in finding them.

The police raided Ghulam’s house in search for her. They, however, arrested two of her brother-in-laws who were present there when they came in and subsequently falsely charged them of abducting Shahnaz. In order to resolve the situation with her parents and the police, she applied to a court for intervention into this matter. She sent an application to the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who then referred the case bearing number 2857/2007(HR) to the District and Sessions Judge in Lahore. However, unfortunately she could unable to appear in court before the judge hearing her application to explain her side of the story as she feared for her life. Her failure to appear in court was later reported by Judge to the Chief Justice on 9 June 2007.

In August 2007, Shahnaz and her husband, Ghulam, were arrested in Ghar Morr, Jhang district. The police officer, Muhammad Iqbal, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of the Jhang police, started beating her soon after her arrest continuously all over her body in open view of her father and uncle from Jhang where they were arrested until they reached Sahiwal–which is about 70 kilometers away. Neither her father nor her uncle intervened to prevent the police from beating her. The police inspector hit and punched her all over her body. Due to this assault, her ears were injured and she bled following a miscarriage. She was at that time pregnant with her husband Ghulam.

Ghulam and his two brothers were charged of abducting Shahnaz and detained. Shahnaz, on the other hand, was sent to the house of her parent’s aunt where Mr. Tanvir is staying. Tanvir repeatedly raped her in front of many people. Her uncle Mr. Bashir and cousins Mr. Sikander, Mr. Arshad and Mr. Khawar including Tanvir physically assaulted her. They were reportedly watching her being raped without doing anything to either stop or prevent Tanvir from raping her.

As a consequence of the repeated rape, she was impregnated and later forced to have an abortion. It is reported that she has been held at Tanivir’s house and prevented from escaping. Villagers have confirmed that Tanivir hit her every time she tried to go outside.

According to Mr. Saeed and Mr. Arshad, legal counsel of Ghulam, ASI Muhammad Iqbal could have hidden or deliberately burnt all the record of the case they filed against his clients and the latter’s brothers because he has since not been able to produce them in court. The police’ failure to produce the records has resulted to delay in the process of their hearing for bail application.

Please write letter to the authorities below requesting for their appropriate intervention. They must ensure that allegations of assault and inhuman treatment on Shahnaz Akhtar are immediately investigated. She must be freed from being held against her will and that her cousin involved in raping and assaulting her must be held to account. Allegations of the police’ involvement in filing fabricated charges against her husband, Ghulam and her two brother-in-laws should also be properly looked into. The charges against them must be withdrawn and that they must be released from jail unconditionally.

The AHRC writes letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women calling for an intervention in this matter.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ____________,

PAKISTAN: Rape victim held against her will for months must be freed

Name of the victims:
1) Ms. Shahnaz Akhtar of Chak 84/5-L of Sahiwal District, Punjab province
2) Mr. Ghulam Mustafa of Ghar Morr, Jhang district, Punjab, husband of Shahnaz
Policemen allegedly involved in filing false charges against Ghulam and his two brothers:
1) Mr. Mohammad Iqbal, Assistant Sub Inspector, Sahiwal, Punjab Police
2) District Police Officer, Jhang district – Punjab
3) District Police Officer, Sahiwal district – Punjab 
Person involved in rape and kept the woman against her will:
1) Mr. Tanvir, a resident of Chak 84/5-L, Sahiwal District, Punjab province, cousin of Ms. Shahnaz

I am shocked to learn about the plight of a woman, Ms. Shahnaz Akhtar, who is continuously illegally detained for marrying her husband without her parents’ knowledge. She was severely beaten, raped in open view and forced to marry her cousin against her will and still kept in chains at the house of Mr. Tanvir. Shahnaz had already been married to her husband, Ghulam, at a local court Okara, Punjab in September 2006 but she did not properly inform her parents because she was too frightened and not prepared to tell them until few months later.

When her parents came to know of her marriage without their knowledge, they were shocked and immediately forced her to marry her cousin, Mr. Tanvir, in July 2007. However, the night before their forced wedding was supposed to take place, Shahnaz ran away. She went to Ghulam’s place and started living together with him as his wife in his place.

However, her parents used their influence by co-opting local policemen in arresting Ghulam and her two brothers over false charges of abducting Shahnaz. She suffered a miscarriage due to severe beatings by the police, Mohammad Iqbal, who arrested her and her husband. Ghulam and his two brothers were remanded to jail while Shahnaz was taken to the house owned by his parents’ aunt. Soon after arriving at the same place, Shahnaz was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by Mr. Tanvir who claimed to be her first husband in open view of their relatives. She was impregnated by him and was later forced to have an abortion.

I have learned that until presently, Shahnaz remained captive by Tanvir in his place and that Shahnaz have been prevented from leaving. She was chained and severely beaten once she tried to go outside the house from where she is detained. On the other hand, the false charges filed against Ghulam and his two brothers could not proceed in court because the policemen investigating the case, Mr. Mohammad Iqbal, have allegedly, deliberately, and continuously failed to submit the documents in court. They could not proceed with the hearing for bail application for lack of documents in court.

I have also learned that the said police officer have also been co-opted by Shahnaz’ relatives and that his failure in submitting the documents in court could have been done deliberately to delay the detainees application for bail and hearing of their case. I have learned that Shahnaz’s parents are wealthy and have been using their money against the couple presumably to punish them for getting married without their knowledge.

It is very shocking that a woman is beaten simply on the charges of using her right to marry at her own choice as if the country is directly in control of Taliban of Afghanistan. No law of the country allows the police to beat a woman in public use the methods to destroy the pregnancy. Even, Pakistan is a member of UN Human Rights Council but its authorities are openly violating the international norms. It also looks that the influential people in Pakistan are running the state with-in state and keeping the victims in their private custody for more than six months. The police are helping such people who are having their own laws. The government should take stern actions against the police and the influential persons who are involved in this heinous crime.

I am also extremely shocked by the manner in which Shahnaz is continuously treated and the involvement by the police in this case. I therefore urge your immediate intervention to ensure that she is released from where she is held captive without delay. Those responsible for severely beating, sexually assaulting and raping her in open view, must be held to account. The policemen involved in severely beating her, particularly Mr. Mohammad Iqbal, must also be punished. He must also be investigated over allegations of co-opting with Shahnaz’s parents in arresting and subsequently filing false charges against her husband and her two in laws. The charges filed against them must be withdrawn unconditionally.

Additionally, Shahnaz’s parents and relatives who had complicity in this case should also be investigated and answer the allegation against them. Those involved in tolerating the sexual assaults and rape on the victim, particularly her uncle and cousins should also be investigated for their complicity into the crime. They must also be held to account once it is proven they are indirectly involved for tolerating of having her raped. Shahnaz’s cousin, Tanvir, must also be held for alleged rape, sexual assault and forcing her to have an abortion after having been impregnated.

I urge you to take adequate action in this case.

Yours sincerely,


1. General Pervez Musharraf
President’s Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
E-mail: (please see –

2. Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block
Pakistan Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 920 2628

3. Federal Minister of Interior
Room#404, 4th Floor, R Block,
Pak Secretariat 
Islamabad (Pakistan)
Fax: +92 51 9202624
Tel: +92 51 9212026

4. Lt. General Khalid Maqbool
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road, Lahore
Fax: +92 42 9200023

5. Secretary of Law and Parliamentary Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road

6. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Fax: +92 42 7324489

7. Home secretary
Punjab Secretariat

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-009-2008
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Police violence, Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,