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PAKISTAN: Police insist an 18-year-old girl to settle a case of raping for five years with the rapist cum stepfather

April 12, 2012

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-059-2012



12 April 2012
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PAKISTAN: Police insist an 18-year-old girl to settle a case of raping for five years with the rapist cum stepfather

ISSUES: Rape; violence against women; denial of justice; intimidation and threats by police; impunity; rule of law 

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Dear friends,



The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the rape of an 18-year-old girl in the captivity of her stepfather, a police tout, for more than five years. Her mother has also been kidnapped by the perpetrator and her whereabouts remain unknown. A case was filed after agitation from local communities but the area Police Station is pressurizing the girl not to pursue the case intimating that she would face dire consequences. The area police have taken the perpetrator into custody but have not yet arrested him. Instead, police officials are trying to force a settlement between the victim and the perpetrator rather than filing a case against him.

The Police Investigation officer asked the AHRC not to interfere in the case as it will hamper the settlement between the rapist and the victim.

CASE NARRATIVE: (Information received from the Star Welfare Organization)

Ms. Sonia Rani (18), daughter of late Mr. Mohammad Sadiq, a resident of Miandadkot, Hafizabad, Punjab Province was continuously raped for five years in the captivity of her stepfather, Mohammad Ramzan, a well known police tout of the area. Her mother Naseem Bibi was married to the perpetrator Ramzan after the death of Sonia’s father. A report was made at the city police station of Hafizabad concerning the rape. Sonia has stated that she was forced to have three abortions which were carried out by different midwives. She was threatened by the perpetrator not to talk about the matter with anyone otherwise she would face dire consequences. When Sonia’s mother came to know that her daughter has been raped by her stepfather she arranged her marriage to a boy when Sonia was 3 months pregnant.

On 1 April 2012 when she reported to the City police station, the Station Head Officer (SHO) and other police officials warned her not to file the case against their tout but told her that if she had the same relationship with them then her case would be filed. After agitation from the local people the police was compelled to file a First Information Report (FIR) on 6 April, however the police are reluctant to take action against the perpetrator. He has been taken into custody and is enjoying the facilities of the police in the lock up but has not yet been formerly arrested. Instead, police are forcing the victim and her in-laws to reach a settlement with the rapist and withdraw the complaint against him.

Sonia alleged in her police report that her stepfather has kidnapped her mother when she came to know that her daughter had been raped by her second husband.

The victim told the police that her mother has been disappeared for the last 10 months and her whereabouts remain unknown. She further stated that several times she tried to prevent her stepfather from raping her but he always threatened her that he will kill her and her mother also.

When she tried to report the crime Sonia was sexually harassed and abused by the police who used filthy language. The police are insisting that she withdraw her case and not file an FIR against Mohammad Ramzan.

When the Asian Human Rights Commission tried to contact the victim to get the further details of the case at first she attended the telephone call but suddenly the call was taken over by one of the investigation officers, Asghar Zaman of the City Police Station, Hafizabad who asked the AHRC not to interfere into the case as the police is trying to make a settlement between the rapist and the victim. The police officer then disconnected the telephone line.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below calling for prompt action in the rape and abduction case by a police tout. Please urge them to arrest the perpetrators and prosecute the Station House Officer (SHO) and Investigation Officer of the city police station of Hafizabad for their negligence in filing case against the perpetrator taking. Please also urge prompt intervention in this case so that the authorities can take up this case and prosecute the police for its negligence and alleged involvement in the prevailing case. The concerned authorities should conduct an urgent inquiry into the matter of the abduction of the other women as notified by the complainant.

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women calling for her intervention into this case.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Police insist an 18-year-old girl to settle a case of raping for five years with the rapist cum stepfather

Name of victims:
1. Ms. Sonia Rani, aged 18, daughter of late Mr. Mohammad Sadiq
2. Ms. Naseem Bibi mother of Sonia Rani
Both are residents of Miandakot, Hafizabad, Punjab Province
Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Muhammad Ramzan , Resident of Miandakot, Hafizabad, Punjab Province
2. Mr. Ijaz Ahmed, Station House Officer (SHO), of City Police Station, Hafizabad, Punjab province.
3. Mr. Asghar Zaman, Sub inspector cum Investigation Officer City Police Station Hafizabad, Punjab province.
Date of incident: 1 April 2012
Place of incident: Miandadkot, Hafizabad, Punjab province.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the rape of an 18-year- old woman who was abducted and assaulted by the perpetrator

I have learned that Sonia Rani (18) the daughter of Mohammad Sadiq (deceased), a resident of Miandadkot, Hafizabad, Punjab Province was continuously raped for five years in the captivity of her stepfather, Mohammad Ramzan, a well known police tout of the area. Her mother Naseem Bibi was married to the perpetrator Ramzan after the death of Sonia’s father. A report was made at the city police station of Hafizabad concerning the rape. Sonia has stated that she was forced to have three abortions which were carried out by different midwives. She was threatened by the perpetrator not to talk about the matter with anyone otherwise she would face dire consequences. When Sonia’s mother, Naseem Bibi, came to know that her daughter has been raped by her stepfather she mother arranged her marriage to a boy when Sonia was 3 months pregnant.

On 1 April 2012 when she reported to the City police station, the Station Head Officer (SHO) and other police officials warned her not to file the case against their tout but told her that if she had the same relationship with them then her case would be filed. After agitation from the local people the police was compelled to file First Information Report (FIR) on 6 April, however the police was reluctant to take action against the perpetrator. He has been taken into custody and is enjoying the facilities of Police officer in the lock up but has not yet been formerly arrested. Instead, police are forcing the victim and her in-laws to reach a settlement with the rapist and withdraw the complaint against him.

I have also learned that Sonia alleged in her police report that her stepfather has kidnapped her mother Naseem Bibi when she came to know that her daughter had been raped by her second husband.

The victim told the police that her mother has been disappeared for the last 10 months and her whereabouts are still unknown. She further stated that several times she tried to prevent her stepfather from raping her but he always threatened her that he will kill her and her mother also.

I am appalled to learn that when she tried to report the crime Sonia was sexually harassed and abused by the police who used filthy language. The police are insisting that she withdraw her case and not file an FIR against Mohammad Ramzan.

I find it totally unacceptable that when the Asian Human Rights Commission tried to contact the rape victim Ms. Sonia Rani to get further details of the case at first she attended the telephone call but suddenly the call was taken over by one of the investigation officers, Asghar Zaman of the City Police Station of Hafizabad who asked the AHRC not to interfere into the case as the police is trying to make a settlement between the rapist and the victim. The police officer then disconnected the telephone line.

Please ensure that an immediate investigation is made into this matter. The rapist, Mohammad Ramzan, who is already in custody, must be formerly charged and the SHO and other officers who are protecting him dismissed from their posts. This is particularly important in that they have asked the victim for sexual services in order to assist her case.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Federal Minister for Human Rights 

Ministry of Human Rights 

Old US Aid building 

Ata Turk Avenue 

G-5, Islamabad 

PAKISTAN 

Fax: +92 51 9204108 

Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

2. Mr. Lateef Khosa 

Governor of Punjab 

Governor House 

Mall Road 

Lahore 

PAKISTAN 

Fax: +92 42 99203044 

Email: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

3. Mr. Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed

Chief Justice of Punjab Province

Lahore High Court

Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Lahore 

PAKISTAN

Tel: +92 42 99212951-66

Fax: +92 42 99212279

Email: webmasterlhc@lhc.gov.pk

4. Mr. Shahbaz Shareef

Chief Minister 

Government of Punjab
Province
Chief Minister
Secretariat
5-Club Road

GOR-I, Lahore, Punnjab

PAKISTAN

Fax: +92 42 99205065

Email: cmcomplaintcell@cmpunjab.gov.pk

5. Dr. Faqir Hussain 

Registrar 

Supreme Court of Pakistan 

Constitution Avenue, Islamabad 

PAKISTAN 

Fax: +92 51 9213452 

Email: mail@supremecourt.gov

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.