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PAKISTAN: Young girl allegedly raped by 11 persons and paraded naked

February 3, 2007

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

3 February 2007
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UA-039-2007: PAKISTAN: Young girl allegedly raped by 11 persons and paraded naked

PAKISTAN: Gang rape; no proper police investigation due to political influence; impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received a report of the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by 11 persons in Ubaro Town, Ghotki district, Sindh province, Pakistan on 27 January 2007. We were informed that the victim was forced to parade in naked back home by the alleged perpetrators. We were also informed that no proper police investigation has been initiated into this case due to alleged pressure from the Minister of Irrigation of Sindh provincial government. The police simply arrested five out of 11 persons for a simple inquiry based on the girl's father's complaint in order to calm the local people's protest. However, no charges of rape and abduction have been filed by the police against the alleged perpetrators. Meanwhile, the victim was forcibly discharged from the government hospital in Sukkur City Civil hospital on the instructions of the police and she and her family are facing severe threats by the perpetrators to withdraw the complaint against them. We were also informed that the doctor, who examined the victim, allegedly provided a false medical report that the girl was not raped due to heavy pressure from the influential persons. The report of the second medical examination done at the Sukkur City Civil Hospital has not yet made public.

CASE DETAILS:

A 16-year-old girl Miss Nasima is living in Habib Labano village, Langho Union Council, Ubaro Town, Ghotki district, Sindh province, Pakistan. On 27 January 2007, she was abducted along with her mother Ms. Zareena from her home by 11 persons living in the same village. They include Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano, Mr. Moor Zado, Mr. Abdul Jabbar, Mr. Munawar Hussian, Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano, Mr. Khadim Hussain Labano, Mr. Ali Hassan, Mr. Shah Baig and Mr. Shabeer Loung. Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano is the father of Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano and the other perpetrators are their close relatives.

The girl was then taken to the house of one local influential person namely Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano. The mother was released, while the girl was taken into a room. According to the girl, she was first raped by Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano and then by his father Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano before she was fainted. She does not clearly remember what happened to her after that. Meanwhile, the girl's mother shouted for help outside the house and several women and men gathered upon hearing her cry. The group shouted and knocked on the door loudly. Afraid that the police might arrive the perpetrators became scared and and kicked the naked girl outside the house. When they found no police outside, the perpetrators rudely ordered the girl to go home remaining naked.

It is alleged that the girl's cousin namely Mr. Bhan Labano fell in love with a girl who was a friend of one of the alleged perpetrators. They then secretly married and left for another town. The perpetrators were against this marriage because of caste differences between the two families. Both families belong to Labano caste but the victim's family is from lowest level of the same Labano caste. The perpetrators led by Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano had been allegedly threatening the victim's family to break the marriage and produce the man before them, saying that otherwise the victim's family would face dangerous consequences. On January 27, the perpetrators finally barged into the victim's house and abducted her and her mother, when her father was not at home.

Soon after being released from the house, some people took the girl to the government hospital in Sukkur City for a medical examination. The female doctor Ms. Zaib-ul Nisa conducted the examination on the girl but declared in her medical report that she was about four months pregnant. The female doctor later reportedly said that she denied rape of the girl because of heavy pressure from influential persons.

Local people infuriated by the doctor's report, began to protest outside the hospital and marched into the Ubaro town. However, Mr. Aftab Farooqi, Sub Inspector and investigation wing-in-charge of the Ubaro police station, has allegedly refused to register the case of rape. However, the police later simply recorded the complaint of the girl's father to calm down the local people's protest but still refused to register the rape charges against the perpetrators, saying that they cannot institute the rape case without medical confirmation by law. As a result, no First Information Report (FIR), which is the crucial first step to seek prosecution of the offenders, has been registered and subsequently any charges of rape and abduction have not been filed against the alleged perpetrators by the police.

The victim was then admitted at the Sukkur District Civil Hospital, where she was received the second medical examination.

The Ubaro police arrested five including Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano among 11 perpetrators but for a simple inquiry about the complaint lodged by the girl's father, as no FIR has been registered against them. The remainder of the perpetrators are walking freely around the village and has been openly threatening the girl's father to withdraw his complaint against them. After the police inquiry, the arrested five persons may be released as no case has yet been filed against them.

During investigation about this incident, the AHRC staff was informed by a reliable source that the failure of filing FIR and police inaction is due to pressure from Mr. Nadir Akmal Khan Leghari, Minister of Irrigation of Sindh provincial government. It is alleged that the perpetrators are political campaigners for Minister Laghari. The District Police Officer (DPO) of Ghotki allegedly follows Minister Laghari's instruction. Meanwhile, the victim was forcibly discharged from the Sukkur District Civil Hospital on the instructions of the said DPO, while the second medical report has not been allowed to be released to public but kept in abeyance.

Now the victim and her family are living in fear for their security, while being denied any redress or protection from the government authorities.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please urgently write to the relevant Pakistan authorities listed below and demand that the rape and abduction charges are immediately filed against the perpetrators and a proper and fair investigation is conducted into the incident. Please also urge them to bring the alleged perpetrators before court as soon as possible. Please also urge them to inquire alleged influence of the provincial minister.

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Sample letter:

Dear _______,

PAKISTAN: Young girl allegedly raped by 11 persons and paraded naked

Name of victim: Miss Nasima, aged 16, daughter of Mr. Hamzo Mohammad, the resident of Habib Labano village, Langho Union Council, Ghotki district, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano, the father of the perpetrator no. 2 (main suspect)
2. Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano
3. Mr. Moor Zado
4. Mr. Abdul Jabbar
5. Mr. Munawar Hussian
6. Mr. Khadim Hussain Labano
7. Mr. Ali Hassan
8. Mr. Shah Baig
9. Mr. Shabeer Loung
(All the men above are the residents of Habib Labano village, Langho Union Council, Ghotki district, Sindh Province, Pakistan)
10. Another two men by Labano caste living in Habib Labano village
11. Mr. Aftab Farooqi, Sub Inspector and Investigation wring in-charge of the Ubaro police station in Ubaro town, Ghotki district, Sindh province, Pakistan
12. Mr. Iqbal Ghara, District Police Officer, Ghotki district, Sindh province, Pakistan
13. Mr. Akmal Khan Laghari, Minister of Irrigations, Sindh provincial government, Karachi city, Sindh province, Pakistan
Date of alleged rape: 27 January 2007
Place of alleged rape: House of one perpetrator Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano in Habib Labano village

I am deeply concerned by the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by 11 persons in Ubaro Town, Ghotki district, Sindh province, Pakistan on 27 January 2007. It is alleged that reasons behind this brutal crime is due to the dispute between the families of the victim's side and the perpetrators' side relating to a marriage. 

According to the information I have received, a 16-year-old Miss Nasima was allegedly abducted along with her mother by 11 persons mentioned above from her home in from her home in Habib Labano village, Langho Union Council, Ghotki district, Sindh Province, Pakistan on 27 January 2007. All the perpetrators are close relatives each other. I am informed that the victim was taken to the house of Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano, where the mother was released but the victim was brutally gang raped. According to the girl, she was first raped by Mr. Mohammad Anwar Hussain Labano and then by his father Mr. Abdul Sattar Labano before she was fainted. She does not clearly remember what happened to her after being fainted. The girl was then kicked outside the house after the gang rape when her mother and other villagers came to rescue her. The perpetrators also rudely ordered the girl to go home remaining naked.

I was informed that the girl was taken to the government hospital in Ubaro Town on the same day, where one female doctor Ms. Zaib-ul Nisa conducted the examination on the victim. However, the doctor falsely declared in her medical report that the victim was not raped and in four month pregnancy. I was informed that the doctor later reportedly said that she denied rape of the girl because of heavy pressure from influential persons. The victim was then admitted at the Sukkur District Civil Hospital, where she was received the second medical examination. However, the medical report has not been allowed to be released to public but kept in abeyance by the police to date.

I am annoyed to learn that no proper investigation has been initiated in this case. Mr. Aftab Farooqi, Sub Inspector and investigation wing-in-charge of the Ubaro police, has allegedly refused to register the case of rape and abduction lodged by the victim's father. Finally, the police later simply recorded the incident to calm down the local people's protest but still refused to register the rape and abduction charges against the perpetrators. As a result, no First Information Report (FIR), which is the crucial first step to seek prosecution of the offenders, has been registered against the alleged perpetrators by the police.

I was further informed that although the Ubaro police arrested five among 11 perpetrators, this is for a simple inquiry about the victim's father's complaint, as there is no FIR registered against them. As a result, rest of the perpetrators is freely walking around the village and has been openly threatening the girl's father to withdraw his complaint against them. I am also concerned that the arrested five persons may be released after the police inquiry as no case has yet been filed against them. Now the victim and her family are living in fear for their security, while being denied any redress or protection from the government authorities.

I am also appalled to learn that the alleged reason for the failure of filing FIR and police inaction is due to pressure from Mr. Nadir Akmal Khan Leghari, Minister of Irrigation of Sindh provincial government. It is alleged that the perpetrators are political campaigners for Minister Laghari. I was informed that the victim was forcibly discharged from the Sukkur District Civil Hospital on the instruction of the District Police Officer (DPO) of Ghotki, who allegedly follows Minister Laghari's instruction.

In light of the above, I strongly urge you to take action to ensure that FIR with gang rape and abduction charges is immediately filed against the alleged perpetrators and that a proper and fair investigation is conducted into the incident as soon as possible. All the alleged perpetrators should be arrested without further delay and be tried before the criminal court under the Pakistan Penal Code, as the Women's Protection Bill was passed and take in enforce by the Government of Pakistan on 15 November 2006. I also I request that the case be brought before the Anti-Terrorism Court in order to ensure a just trial, one that is not weighed against the victims.

I also request you to inquire about the alleged police inaction and influence of Minister Laghari to hush up the case. The proper disciplinary and legal action should be taken against responsible police officers including Sub Inspector Aftab Farooqi of the Ubaro police and the DPO Iqbal Ghara as well as Minister Laghari if these allegations are proven true. The effective protection should be urgently provided to the victim and her family to protect them from further intimidation and threats by the alleged perpetrators. I also ask you to ensure that the victim is adequately compensated.     

This case will be one criterion to examine whether the Government of Pakistan has genuine intention to eliminate violence against women, protect their rights and implement the newly passed Women's Protection Bill. Failure of intervention into this case will downgrade this new law as yet another meaningless rhetoric to please the international community.

I look for your immediate intervention into this case.

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

1. General Pervez Musharraf
President
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
E-mail: (please see - < http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx)

2. Mr. Muhammad Wasi Zafar
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
E-Mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

3. Mr. Justice Sabih Uddin
Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-21-9213220
Email: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk 

4. Dr. Ishrat UL Ibad
Governor of Sindh province
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 21 920 1201

5. Chief Secretary
Government of Sindh
Chief Secretariat,
Karachi, Sindh province,
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 921950
Fax: +92 21 9211946
Email: cs.sindh@sindh.gov.pk 

6. Secretary
(Criminal Prosecution) SGA &CD Department
Government of Sindh
Sindh Secretariat,
Karachi, Sindh Province.
PAKISTAN
Email: secy.cpsd@sindh.gov.pk

7. Secretary of Local Government abd Katchi Abadis
New Secretariate,
Government of Sindh
Karachi,
Sindh province
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 921 1921
Fax: +92 21 9212977
E-mail: secy.lg@sindh.gov.pk 

8. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court Building
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92-51-9213770
E-mail: registrar@supremecourt.gov.pk

9. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Room 3-042
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)


Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-039-2007
Countries :
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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.