After much delay, as is the norm, a Kohistani court has given its judgment in the Kohistan video case, sentencing one person to death, and five others to life imprisonment for the murder of three brothers. The case caught media’s attention when a video – in which the three brothers can be seen dancing as four women sing while sitting on the floor in the same proximity – was shared by Muhammad Afzal Kohistani in 2012, another brother for the deceased, seeking protection for the lives of his brothers. The three brothers were killed on 4th January 2013. Mr Azal claimed that the four women seen in the video had also been murdered, but this was established false by the fact finding commission constituted by the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC), Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Mr Azal is still insistent that the four women had indeed been murdered. According to him, the women who appeared before the commission to record their statements were in fact not the ones seen in the video. He has demanded the case be reopened to ascertain facts regarding the fate of the four women.
In another case, the police arrested six of the nine accused persons for their role in the alleged gang rape of a 40 years old widow, in Radiwala, Muzaffargarh. Reports claim that a panchayat ordered the abuse of a woman, as punishment for her brother’s alleged affair with a relative. Officials were prompted to action after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the case, and ordered action. There is still ambiguity surrounding the case, as it still hasn’t been established whether the woman was in fact gang raped, as claimed by her brother. However, the fact that she was stripped and beaten on the orders of the panchayat has not been contested. The family of the victim appears hesitant to take the case any further, as they believe it is a family’s internal dispute, and the courts need not interfere.
These two cases are amongst the very few which are highlighted on the media. Most go unnoticed, and suffering continues uninterrupted. But even in these few cases, despite all the attention and uproar, justice rarely prevails. Even where convictions are made, the process that the victims and their families experience becomes another tale of injustice in itself. And, stories like these just never stop coming. Nothing will change as long as the state doesn’t ensure that the concerned institutions are performing their designated roles effectively. The courts and the police are supposed to help the complainants, not harass and discourage them as it often happens. A change in the society’s way of thinking is just as important. Instead of just sympathizing with the affected party, it must come forward to reject those who perpetrate such crimes, and call for accountability. It must also give a victim the chance to become a survivor, and move forward.