It took the gang rape survivor less than 24 hours to realise that she was better off withdrawing her statement, so badly did the government and police manage the case.
Twenty-something K and her acquaintance S, in her mid-30s, were driving in a blue Suzuki Alto on Khayaban-e-Qasim in DHA Karachi when three to four men in a car rammed into them from the back. The small car dived into a ditch, the women were dragged from the car, abducted and K was gang raped while S was beaten. They were then dumped back at the spot. M, one of K’s friends, took them to hospital from where the case was taken up.
DIG South Iqbal Mehmood confirmed that the medico-legal report stated that rape had indeed taken place. “The report has been reserved for now and will only be released on Tuesday,” he said. S was beaten and needed 17 stitches, added Citizens-Police Liaison Committee chief Ahmed Chinoy. He told The Express Tribune, “Since there was no medico-legal officer (MLO) at Jinnah hospital they were then taken to Services hospital where the MLO examined the girl and also took samples for DNA testing. The initial report does say that she was raped.” Police Surgeon Dr Hamid Parhiyar said K’s clothes have been handed over to the police. DNA samples have been dispatched as well. Dr Sumayan, who carried out the chemical examination, has declined to comment.
K’s friend M registered the First Information Report (FIR) No. 585/10 under Sections 365-A (kidnapping) and 375/34 (gang rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code at Darakshan police station. It states that there were three to four unidentified men who committed the crime. The complaint was, however, withdrawn late Monday night.
At the Darakhshan police station, where the statements were recorded, a veritable media circus had broken out. Not one to be left out, information adviser Sharmila Farooqui arrived and after attempting to speak to K, met the media at about 7:30 pm. Against all internationally adopted procedures, the adviser not only named the rape survivor but went on to express scepticism and describe K as extremely “hyper” and “rude” as she did not want to speak to anyone. “She’ll beat you with a stick if you go meet her!” Farooqui exclaimed.
The adviser told the media that K had said that she would think about giving names and addresses after mulling over them through the night. Amid a rash of questions, Farooqui discussed M’s statement that led to the FIR. M’s statement was automatically assumed to be K’s version of the events, that she went to a “party” and was raped after she emerged from it. “But this is her version,” said Farooqui. She went on to make the judgement that K’s statements had been “contradictory” because her friends had given different statements and locations.
“You will understand it later [after investigations are through],” Farooqui answered to further badgering from the media. “We’ve understood it a little… Uss [her statements] mein jaan nahi he. Thora sa he.”
Farooqui said that K was blaming the police and politicians for inviting the media. “A perfectly normal person would panic with so much media around,” the adviser admitted.
K was not willing to share details of where she lived, the address of the supposed party she had attended and other information. S was also not keen on divulging any details.
Adviser Farooqui and the CPLC’s Chinoy went on to stress that the rumours of a gang operating in DHA were not true. “There is no such thing. It is an individual, isolated case,” Farooqui said. She expressed sympathy for the police. “The bechara DIG has been sitting here for four hours,” she remarked.
Chinoy, who also spoke to K, said, “She was calm. However given the amount of media present, given what happened, she was disturbed and said that she had not been treated fairly [mere sath insaaf nahi hua he].”
While officials admitted that the medico-legal report showed that K had been raped, the prevailing consensus at the police station was that the women were at fault and were ‘blackmailing’ someone by filing the FIR. When asked about K’s profession, DIG Iqbal Mehmood huffily replied, “She says she is a model.” He then went on to disclose personal biological details about her.
At the police station, there appeared to be an effort to portray that the alleged victims were ‘call girls’ and one of them was involved in ‘trafficking women’. Much was made of the “fact” that the women had reportedly attended a party and that one of their statements did not match.
“The victim is not ready to inform the police about the culprits and she is not even answering when the police ask her from where she was returning home at midnight,” said SHO Rana Amjad. “We did not register the case on the complaint of the victim but we lodged the FIR over media pressure.” The women had not spoken to any media personnel and had left the police station while reporters were amassed outside.
The small car, which had been hit by the alleged perpetrators’ car, stood in the parking lot at the police station. Its front and rear ends had received extensive damage and the windshield was smashed.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity, a female police surgeon with 15 years of experience, who works with rape survivors admitted at Jinnah hospital, Civil hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, said: “We keep asking the (alleged) victim questions and slowly take them into confidence in order to get the whole story. Every now and then we revert to the same questions in order to check for continuity… In some cases the woman may be severely traumatised and when questioned by the police may succumb to pressure.” Dr Mubarak Ali, a medico-legal officer at Civil hospital, also said a victim’s story changes if they get scared of the police.
PPI reported, however, that both women came to the police station on Monday at about midnight and informed the police about the case.
According to this report, the police took them to Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) for medico-legal formalities. CHK MLO Dr Qarrar told PPI that the initial report suggested that the woman was raped.
Clifton SP Tariq Dharejo told The Express Tribune that the DIG was forming a special investigation team to investigate the matter. The mobile phone records are being pulled as well.
with additional input by mahnoor sherazee
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2010.