#Pakistangangrape – 9-year-old kidnapped and gang-raped #Vaw


 06 January, 2013, 08:17, http://rt.com/news
An archive photo of  a Pakistani girl. (Reuters / Fayaz Aziz)

An archive photo of a Pakistani girl. (Reuters / Fayaz Aziz)

A nine-year-old Pakistani girl has been taken to the hospital in critical condition after being kidnapped and brutally gang-raped. The girl’s mother has named the abusers, but no arrests were made.

The girl was admitted to a hospital in Bahawalpur after being raped on Wednesday. She remains in critical condition due to loss of blood and internal injuries, the Express Tribune reported, quoting the hospital’s doctors.

Local police have launched a criminal case against seven men for the kidnap and rape; no arrests have been made yet.

The girl’s mother named five of the seven suspects. She reportedly told police that she hesitated to inform law enforcers because the kidnappers threatened to kill her and the girl if the woman spoke to authorities.

Station House Officer Irshad Joyia said they were ordered to arrest the suspects, but later were informed that the men had fled to Alipur village, the Express Tribune said.

According to a First Information Report (FIR) prepared by police, the girl was beaten and then kidnapped by three women and a man in front of her house in Manzoorabad in Rahim Yar Khanby. The kidnappers reportedly took her to another location where she was gang-raped by three men, one of whom was named in the FIR.

The girl was then allegedly taken back to the place from which she was kidnapped. The girl’s mother told police she found her bloodied daughter near their house. She then took the child to Sheikh Zayed Hospital for examination and treatment.

The rape came weeks after a similar shocking case when a six-year-old Hindu girl was allegedly raped in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province at the beginning of December. The child was also reportedly kidnapped and gang-raped. Residents of the province staged several protests in response to the incident.

These two recent cases in Pakistan coincide with a horrifying gang-rape in India that claimed the life of a 23-year-old student raped on a bus by six men, the youngest of whom reportedly was a minor. The six men have all been chargedwith murder, gang-rape, attempted murder, kidnapping and other felonies. They are expected to appear in court on Monday.

The case sparked mass protests in New Delhi. Demonstrators, particularly women, demanded the rapists be punished and called for the creation of new laws to protect Indian women.

The incident has drawn international attention to the high rates of violence against women in India, where rape victims often do not report to the police for fear of shaming their families or being ignored by law enforcement.

Pakistan’s human rights review: Internet censorship comes under scrutiny


Published: November 3, 2012

Netherlands asks Islamabad to remove restrictions on internet access. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: As part of a review of Pakistan’s human rights standing, the Netherlands has recommended that Pakistan remove restrictions on internet access.

The recommendation is part of a draft report of the UN Human Rights Council working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan.

In the draft report, released on November 2, the working group has listed this demand along with 163 other recommendations on the country’s rights record.

The video sharing site, YouTube, has been suspended in Pakistan since September 17, 2012.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ordered the ban over a blasphemous movie trailer that incited protests around the world.

It is the fourth time the site has been banned since 2008.

Second review

Pakistan presented its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, October 30. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar defended Pakistan’s progress since the last review in 2008. The Review, created in 2006, takes place every four years and is a state-driven process.

Pakistan will have to respond to the recommendations by March 2013 at the 22nd session of the Council. The response will then be included in the outcome report adopted by the Council in that session.

“It is a great opportunity as it is now part of UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations to the government and we can continue to build pressure on the government to do better on net freedom in the country,” said Shahzad Ahmad from Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan, a human rights organisation that focuses on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for social justice and development in the country.

Ahmad presented a shadow report along with two UN accredited international NGOs, Association for Progressive Communications and Freedom House.

“This is first time ever that a shadow report on internet rights in Pakistan was submitted and a UN member state picked it up and put it as a recommendation for the government to improve internet rights in the country,” he wrote to The Express Tribune in an email from Geneva.

Internet-based human rights

Netherlands made the recommendation that Pakistan “(r)emove restrictions on accessing internet in the country, which runs counter to the criteria of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and the principle of proportionality.”

Internet-based human right issues were not part of Pakistan’s first review in 2008. President Asif Ali Zardari signed the ICCPR in June 2010 and made Pakistan signatory to the law which commits it to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to a fair trial.

 

 

Pakistan-Nurses ‘poisoning’: Christians call for inquiry


 

By Our Correspondent

Published: August 1, 2012

PHOTO: EXPRESS/IRFAN ALI

KARACHI: Christian leaders have called for an impartial inquiry into the alleged poisoning of nine nurses at a government-run hospital.

Nine Christian trainee nurses at the Civil Hospital Karachi fell ill Sunday night allegedly after drinking poisoned tea prepared at their hostel. They were claimed to have been deliberately poisoned because of their faith.

Parliamentarian Saleem Khokhar, while speaking to The Express Tribune, called on the government and the police to launch a joint investigation to find out the actual cause of poisoning. While rumours initially floated that the poisoning took place as the nurses were drinking tea when their Muslim colleagues were fasting, Khokhar ruled that out, saying that the incident took place late night when everyone had broken their fast.

Condemning the incident, Christian leader Michael Javed went a step ahead and asked for a judicial investigation.

Claiming that the society has become extremely intolerant and was not allowing the minorities to live in peace, the former MPA requested the chief justice to take suo motu notice of the incident. “The government has turned a blind eye to the persecution of minorities; our girls are being [forcibly] converted and our churches are being attacked,” he lamented. Javed said that it was unfortunate if the nurses were really poisoned because the religious minorities also respect the Muslim faith and refrain from drinks and food in front of them. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Abdul Hai also expressed concern over the incident. “A large number of nurses are Christians and are [already] subjected to ill-treatment and prejudice,” he added.

Lambasting the incident, the Christian community members also organised a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

William Sadiq, the coordinator of a welfare organisation working for minority women, was suspicious of the hospital administration and alleged that they were hiding the real matter. She suspected some other girls in the hostel may have poisoned the students over some rivalry.  “It could even be religious targeting,” said Sadiq. The Christian leaders also shouted slogans outside the Karachi Press Club against the hospital’s administration and the rising religious intolerance.

The Civil hospital medical superintendent, Prof Saeed Quraishy, ruled out the involvement of anyone from the hostel, however. “They made the tea themselves, how can there be someone else involved,” he said.

He added that the hospital has registered a case at the Eidgah Police Station and tea samples have been sent to the Aga Khan University Hospital for toxicology tests. He confirmed that except for one student who is still admitted to the hospital, all ‘poisoned’ nurses were discharged.

According to one of the affected nurses, a colleague had made the tea after 10pm and immediately after drinking the liquor they fell ill. They were taken to the Civil hospital’s emergency and sent back after treatment. But the students developed complications in the morning and had to be taken to the hospital again.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.

 

 

In the name of honour: Book explores nature of honour crimes and domestic violence


KARACHI:
The first step in fighting honour crimes is to accept their existence in the society and understand the nature of the crime.

“We need to accept that such crimes exist and that they are more prevalent in certain cultures than others,” said Manisha Gupte, one of the co-editors of the book “Honour and Women’s Rights: South Asian Perspectives” at its launch at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

“Honour exists in every society but we need to struggle against the structures of dominance, such as caste and sex, which instigate honour killings.”

The book has been co-edited by Gupte, Ramesh Awasthi and Shraddha Chickerur. It comprises 15 papers by authors from South Asian countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, who are either settled in their respective countries or living abroad.

“The most prevalent form of violence against women among South Asian people is domestic violence and the fear of extended families,” said Gupte, who is also the founder of MASUM, an organisation working for the rural women in India since 1987. “Domestic violence and honour killings are interlinked.”

From Pakistan, Akmal Wasim, Faiza Haswary, Nazish Brohi, Afiya Zia and Saima Husain contributed their papers to the book, which was completed over a period of three years.

Discussing the different forms of honour crimes, Gupte said domestic violence also takes place in western cultures.

She clarified that the book has no answers but only offers insight into such crimes.

The National Commission on the Status of Women chairperson, Anis Haroon, said that illiteracy and extremism are the main obstacles which are stalling women’s development in the region.

One of the authors, Afiya Zia, who co-authored a paper with researcher Nazish Brohi on “Agentive defiance to honour codes in Pakistan”, called for focus on the empirical studies conducted by organisations. She crticised them as being flawed, saying that they are entirely based on media reports. “These crimes are not limited to only villages but exist in urban cities as well.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.

Fearless women: Sherry Rehman, Shehrbano Taseer feature on world women list


THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, Published: March 5, 2012

Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman and daughter of slain Punjab governor Shehrbano Taseer, have featured on The Daily Beast (Newsweek) list of 150 fearless women.

The list, which does not offer any ranking, lists the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatre, Saudi women rights activist Manal al-Sharif, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, and Oprah Winfrey.

About Rehman, The Daily Beast wrote that she had “spent her entire career pushing for human rights and free speech in of the world’s most conservative countries.” It added that while she worked with slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to author bills tackling honour killings and domestic violence. Her claim to the list – according to the Daily Beast, she braved death threats for trying to remove the death penalty in the controversial blasphemy law, even forced into a self-imposed house arrest.

On Shehrbano Taseer, the Beast wrote that she had picked up the battle standard for a progressive and secular Pakistan after the murder of her father and Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. She too, the Beast added, had been braving death threats, forging ahead unnerved with her mission to “eliminate the country’s strict blasphemy law, which are often invoked to execute religious minorities.”

The list featured 52 women form the United States including Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Army’s Female Engagement Team.

Pakistan- Run for your life


Map of Pakistan

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Published: March 4, 2012

Eighteen bloodied bodies, shot Gestapo-style, lay by the roadside. Men in army uniforms had stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons on board alight.Those with Shia sounding names on their national identification cards were separated out. Minutes later it was all over; the earlier massacres of Hazara Shias in Mastung and Quetta had been repeated.

Having just learned of the fresh killings, I relayed the news on to colleagues and students at the cafeteria table. Some looked glumly at their plates but, a minute or two later, normal cheerful chatter resumed. What to do? With so many killings, taking things too seriously can be bad for one’s mental health.

In Pakistan one’s religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and murder. The killers do their job fearlessly and frequently. The 17th century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, once observed that “men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction”.

Equipped with just enough religion to hate those with another faith — but not enough to love their coreligionists — Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious atrocities. Exceptionally grotesque ones, such as when 88 Ahmadis quietly praying in Lahore on a Friday were turned into corpses, have also failed to inspire public reaction. Mass executions do not interest Pakistan’s religious parties, or Imran’s Khan’s PTI. For them, only the killings by American drones matter.

The title of this essay deliberately excludes Hindus, Christians, and Parsis. The reason: these communities were never enthused about India’s partition (even though some individual members pretended to be). Indeed, they were soon slapped with the Objectives Resolution of 1949 which termed them “minorities”, hence freaks and outcasts dispatched to the margins. Some accepted their fate, keeping a low profile. Others altered their names to more Muslim sounding ones. The better off or more able ones emigrated, taking valuable skills along with them.

But with Shias and Ahmadis it was different. Whatever they might feel now, they were enthusiastic about Pakistan. Mr Jinnah, born a Gujrati Shia Muslim, believed that Muslims and Hindus could never live together peacefully but that Muslims, of course, could. Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi leader, was commended by Jinnah for having eloquently argued the Two-Nation theory, and then appointed by him in 1947 as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. Mr Jinnah died early, but Zafarullah Khan lived long enough to see disillusionment. The inevitable had happened: once the partition was complete, the question of which version of Islam was correct became bitterly contentious.

Until recently, Pakistan’s Shias did not have the self-image of a religious minority. They had joined Sunnis in supporting Mr Bhutto’s 1974 decision to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim. But now they are worried. The Tribal Areas are convulsed in sectarian warfare: Kurram, Parachinar and Hangu (in the settled districts) are killing grounds for both Sunni and Shia, but with most casualties being Shia. City life has also become increasingly insecure and segregated; Karachi’s Shia neighborhoods are visibly barricaded and fortified.

But while Shias are numerous enough to put up a defence, Ahmadis are not. Last month, a raging 5,000-strong mob descended upon their sole worship place in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi. Organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami, various leaders from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipah-e-Sahaba addressed the rally demanding the worship place’s security cameras and protective barricades be removed. The police agreed with the mob’s demands, advising the Ahmadis to cease praying. The worship place has now been closed down.

Forbidden from calling themselves Muslims, Ahmadi children are expelled from school once their religion is discovered. Just a hint may be enough to destroy a career. Knowing this, the school staff at a high school in Mansehra added the word ‘Qadiani’ to the name of an Ahmadi student, Raheel Ahmad, effectively eliminating the boy’s chances of getting a university education. The same school also held an anti-Ahmadi programme, distributing prizes to winners.

The latest outrage is that new ID cards, issued by the Punjab government, require the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to insert a ‘Qadiani’ entry in the online forms. Ahmadis now do not have the option of declaring themselves non-Muslims. Instead the government demands that they open themselves to public persecution, a method that Nazi Germany used against Jews.

Even dead Ahmadis are not spared: news had reached the Khatm-e-Nabuwat that Nadia Hanif, a 17-year old school teacher who had died of illness ten days ago, was actually an Ahmadi but buried in a Muslim graveyard in Chanda Singh village, Kasur. Her grave was promptly dug up, and the body removed for reburial.

Pakistan’s state apparatus, for all its tanks and guns, offers no protection to those deemed as religious minorities. Is it just weakness? Or, perhaps, complicity? While swarms of intelligence agents can be seen in many places, they fail spectacularly to intercept religious terrorists. More ominously, recent months have seen state-sanctioned Difah-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rallies across the country, drawing many tens of thousands. Prominent self-proclaimed Shia and Ahmadi killers, prance on stage while holding hands in a show of unity.

At the Multan DPC rally on February 17, Khatm-e-Nabuwat leaders bayed for Ahmadi blood while sharing the stage with the famed Malik Ishaq, a self-acclaimed Shia-killer. Newspaper reports say Ishaq was freed last year after frightened judges treated him like a guest in the courtroom, offering him tea and biscuits. One judge attempted to hide his face with his hands. But after Ishaq read out the names of his children, the judge abandoned the trial.

What does the Pakistan Army think it will gain tolerating — or perhaps encouraging — such violent forces once again? Its jawans pay an enormous price in fighting them, and their offshoots, elsewhere in the country. But perhaps the notion that extremists are Pakistan’s ‘strategic assets’ for use in Kashmir and Afghanistan has captured the military’s mind. Or, post-OBL, perhaps a miffed leadership seeks to show anger at the US through such rallies. Whatever the explanation, Pakistan’s minorities face catastrophe.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.

From homemaker to labour leader


Published: February 14, 2012

Party’s first female worker talks about throwing off her burqa, taking to streets.

LAHORE: “Take off your burqa (veil) and accompany me in the hunger strike tomorrow.” Those were the words with which Shamim Qayyum 

was invited by her husband, Mian Qayyum, to join the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) in a hunger strike in Faisalabad in 2005.

Shamim, speaking at Café Bol on Monday about organising women workers, said she had previously never imagined leaving the house.

“I was a home-maker. All I knew was that things were not going well for the labourers and that my husband was planning a hunger strike,” she told the audience.

On the third day of the strike, she recalled, her husband asked her and her three children to join him. She said she was the only woman in the strike that day. Other women and children joined the strike later. “It raised my spirits to see women coming out of their houses and supporting their men in the cause.”

After a nine-day strike, Shamim said the labourers were called in for negotiations, which were successful. She said during those nine days, a rally was led by Dr Farzana Bari, but with growing concerns of the labourers, she said, another rally had to be organised, this time led by her. Formed in 2003, the Labour Qaumi Movement aims at addressing the issues of labourers, especially those working in the power looms of Faisalabad.

Previously, Shamim’s husband, Mian Qayyum also delivered a talk about the role of women in the Labour Qaumi Movement at Cafe Bol.

Shamim said she was thankful to her husband for his support.  “It just didn’t change my life, it changed the lives of several women I would go out and talk to,” she said while talking about her decision to take off the burqa. She said at first it was difficult to convince women to stand up for their rights. However, with time these women realised that it was for their own benefit, she added.

The current energy crisis, she said, had increased the number of home-based workers. Shamim said there was a dire need to address the difficult conditions the majority of these home-based workers were working in.

She told the audience about an incident where four workers were illegally detained by the Faisalabad police and how she mobilised women workers to rally towards the police station in protest.

“On the fourth day of their detention, the workers were released,” she said. She said despite having similar skills, women labourers in the textile power loom sector were given less wages than men. She said she had organised a strike in which women refused to work at the looms unless they were paid an equal wage. Within days of the strike, she said, their demands were met.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.

Vigil-aunties – Bina Shah


The writer is an author, most recently of Slum Child (2010). She has written for numerous publications including Dawn, The Friday Times and Chowk

The writer is an author, most recently of Slum Child (2010). She has written for numerous publications including Dawn, The Friday Times and Chowk

Imagine this: you are a young Pakistani woman walking in a Karachi park with a young man. He could be your brother, cousin, university friend, fiance, or husband. You are wearing a full burqa, and your companion is walking beside you, carrying on a conversation. You are a middle to lower-middle-class girl, with a lot of restrictions on your life, and this time in this public space, where you are modestly dressed and doing no harm, give you a bit of respite in a life that carries a lot of expectations about how you conduct yourself and what weight that places on your family’s respectability.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a group of fifteen upper-class women descend upon you. One of them has a microphone which she thrusts into your companion’s face, and there is a camera crew behind her, filming every moment. She claims to be doing a survey on mobile phone crime, but the questions she poses become more and more intrusive. “Are you college students? Yes? Then why aren’t you in class? It’s morning time.” The woman with the microphone assures you the camera is not recording, but the accusations become more pointed. “Are you on a date? Are you married? Where’s your nikahnama?”

You become afraid, because you know that if anyone from your family sees this spectacle, there will be no mercy for you. They will believe that you are an immoral girl: maybe you’ll be taken out of college. Maybe you’ll be beaten. Married off to someone you don’t know as a way of forcing you to behave. If you’re very unlucky, you might even be killed as a way of avenging the family honour. You hide behind your companion, but the microphone is thrust in your face. You scream out that you don’t want to be harassed like this, that you don’t want to answer any questions. Finally, you flee, while the group of women and camera crew chase after you, screaming “Bhago bhago bhago!” They are laughing and giggling hysterically, because to them, this is a fun game, while you are crying with fear and anxiety.

And then, the entire clip is shown on a morning breakfast show on a local television channel.

The television anchor who conceived of this segment for her television show thought she was doing a great service to society. “We need to make this park safe for families!” is her justification as the segment begins. But safety and families are not the words that come to mind when watching this clip. Instead, witch-hunt is one of them. Zia is another. Hudood Ordinance is a third. And privacy, hypocrisy, and ethics soon follow.

This clip brings to mind the tales of countless couples harassed by the police to prove they’re married in order to extort money out of them. It makes one wonder what drives a group of educated, affluent women to embarrass a young couple from a lower socioeconomic class, harass them to the point of hysteria, and then drive them out from a public space which is paid for by government taxes which that same socioeconomic class is more likely to pay than the class the affluent women come from. It makes one wonder whether Pakistanis have the right to privacy, and question the need to browbeat young adults about their presence in a public park, engaged in nothing more harmful than a walk on a beautiful winter’s day. It makes one wonder about how Talibanisation has invaded our mindset, when we can see something obscene in a normal act which people engage in all over the world.

Time and again the ethics of our media have been called into question, as channels embrace sensationalism in order to achieve the highest ratings. The television channel in question will find themselves open to legal action by victims of their harassment who are being portrayed on television without their consent. Airing this segment also appeals to the worst instincts in our hypocritical society by passing moral judgment in the name of family values upon two innocent people, which makes for some of the most irresponsible broadcast journalism found in Pakistan today. At the very least, the channel and the anchorperson owe an apology, if not compensation, to those two individuals who had hurt nobody on that day when they were ambushed and harassed by the television anchor and her Moral Aunty Brigade. The irony is that she describes herself on her Facebook page as “very fair and honest in her dealings”. I think that girl in the niqab, crying in the park, and her blameless friend, as well as any sane person with a conscience and a respect for other people’s privacy, would beg to differ.

(The headline for this article is courtesy of Anthony Permal.)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.