The girl sexually assaulted by the three sons of a PMLN MNA and five other suspects in Faisalabad has decided to drop the case. The victim changed her original statement on Friday from being raped, to exchanging ‘harsh words’ with the accused. The sudden retraction blatantly points to manipulation on part of the sons of Mian Farooq; Muazzam, Saad and Qasim Farooq got to her before justice could run its course. The police have dropped investigations after refusal on part of the victim to give her blood sample and sanction DNA tests.

The accused and their father, MNA Mian Farooq, have said that this was an attempt to malign their reputation. Vehemently denying the accusations and calling the victim a liar is beyond abominable, but not unexpected. The victim’s decision to retract the FIR does not prove their innocence. When it comes to blackmail, the person being blackmailed is the one that strives to divert public attention away from the entire episode. Common sense dictates that the girl is the one who is being blackmailed, while it is in the interest of Mian Farooq and his sons to keep this under wraps.

Are we really going to look the other way? Pretend that it never happened? Pretend that the medical examination of the victim did not confirm that she was gang-raped and tortured? The sons of PMLN’s Mian Farooq were identified, and now that she’s mysteriously retracted her statement, are we really not considering that she might have been forced to do so? Blackmailed, threatened or paid-off to stay quiet and let her attackers walk free, to repeat their crimes with impunity. Anyone with influence can do whatever they want to those who lack it.

The subjugation of women is also allowed to propagate itself after incidents such as this. Rape victims never receive justice, and a major reason is for this is the way their cases are dismissed in police departments all over the country. Never mind whether those accused are ever punished, the fact that most cases do not even make it to court is just as big a problem as the trials themselves. Fear of making things worse holds more than half the victims back from ever seeking justice. With regards to sexual assault, the government fails on all counts; first, in its inability to prevent such incidents from taking place. Secondly, from making the victims feel like they are the ones at fault, and lastly, allowing those that speak up to be blackmailed and denied justice, to make them feel like they have no hope for their attackers to be punished.