Lahore: Given that a large portion of the rape cases in Pakistan go unreported, calculating the actual number of rapes in the country on a yearly basis is close to impossible. Even those that get reported to the police often escape the notice of the media and the general public.
Amna’s* case is one of many such cases, that goes beyond just the incidence of rape, that took place on 7:00pm on April 2 this year in Lahore. One of three daughters, Amna, 21, a Masters student, was alone at home when her landlord, Waqas Akeel forced himself on her.
When her sister, Fatima* and her father went to the Data Darbar police station to report the incident afterwards, they had to wait for three hours before the First Investigation Report (FIR) was finally filed. After an additional three hours waiting for a medical examination, the family was disappointed to see the results of the report.
“The medical report’s results were unsatisfactory. Although it did admit to the fact that she was raped, most of my sister’s other injuries were ignored. My sister’s face had bruises and cuts, which the examiner did not mention in the report. Her eyes were swollen,” explains Fatima.
The family was committed to not let this issue rest, and see it through the courts. But with the tedious process to obtain justice in the country, that is no easy task.
“The DNA test, the medical report, and all other evidence only points to Waqas Akeel as the culprit behind this crime. Not only that, but his cousins and family in the area harass us at every available opportunity. Waqas told my father to drop the case or else he would ensure that my father gets accused in cases of his own. He told my father he would get an FIR filed in some other city, so that my father would be harassed even further.”
On Saturday, September 17, the landlord’s threats materialised. Fatima’s father was dragged out of his house by men in plain clothes from the CIA at 2 am. He was arrested for an FIR of Rape filed in Haveli Lakkha, Okara, on July 24, in which he was named an absconder because the FIR was filed over two months ago, in July, roughly around the same date that Waqas had threatened him.
“The FIR they used to pick my father up was dated July 26. They came to our house because he did not turn up to respond to the FIR for two months. But we were never even told. How could we have responded?” said Fatima.
Sonia Qadir, a legal advisor at Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), validates the family’s story. “The family has been harassed consistently. The landlord is using all options to put this issue to bed. We need to give this greater attention so that he cannot get his way,” she said to The Nation.
“How was he (Waqas Akeel) allowed to walk free on interim bail for so long, while my father was arrested, and we could not even track him for two days?” asks Fatima. “We think that the police in the area is on his (the accused) side. They took three hours to file our FIR. When I went to search for my father, one of the policemen at the Data Darbar station whispered in ASI Afzal’s ear, telling him about my sister’s case. After that, he did not accept my application or tell me where my father was. They just sent me home.”
Fatima says that in the area where they live, Waqas Akeel’s side is influential. His cousins and friends have shouted insults at them and started bashing their doors on Eid. The family would have moved out but the landlord still has their security deposit. The sisters live in constant fear. "I don’t sleep anymore. I lock the main door at night. And then I stand guard in the living room, because there is no male member in the house after they arrested my father,” said Fatima.
“The only support we receive is from the PCSW. Since my father was arrested, I have been checking various police stations to find him. But we could not do so for two days.”
When asked of her sister’s current condition, Fatima stated, “Initially, my sister used to cry all the time. She became suicidal. She will be okay for a few minutes but then she has bouts of uncontrollable weeping. She keeps asking our father to kill her. She has stopped going to college.”
Fatima still seemed brave and defiant, “Even through all of this, I am not scared. They have threatened to pick me up next. But I will fight for my sister and my family’s rights. They can threaten us, but they cannot defeat us.”
*Names changed to protect the identity of the family.