“One evening, my daughter went to the nearby shop to buy something,” says Javed Masih of village 40/12 Chichawatani Tehsil of Sahiwal. “But she didn’t come back. Despite searching for her everywhere, I couldn’t find her. I had to come back home. Late that night, I heard someone crying outside my house. As I opened the door, I saw my daughter standing there, injured.”
Javed’s seven-year-old daughter had been assaulted sexually.
He promptly took his daughter to Tehsil Hospital Chichawatani. However, the doctors there referred him to District Hospital Sahiwal, and he was sent back home from there.
A father of two daughters and one son, Javed, stated that his daughter is experiencing fear, she cannot speak, and her mental condition does not look very stable.
MS Dr Kazim of Tehsil Hospital Chichawatni says that when the girl was brought to the hospital, her condition was critical as she was bleeding. The doctors administered first aid and provided her with blood. Following the initial treatment, the girl was referred to the district hospital in Sahiwal due to the absence of pediatric surgical facilities at Chichawatni Hospital.
Wilson Raza is a reporter at a private journalism firm. He mentions that it has been three weeks since the incident occurred, and the medical report provides no clear information. The police have not presented the girl’s statement in court as yet. With support from Christian welfare organisations, efforts were made to bring the girl to court, where her statement was documented.
Wilson reports that the victim’s family is facing pressure to refrain from pursuing the case as influential figures back the accused individuals. He highlights that such instances, particularly those involving the Christian community, often require prolonged efforts to attain justice.
DSP Waseem, the officer in charge of Sadar Chichawatani police station, confirms the registration of an FIR against Shaheer, who is accused of assaulting the girl. Shaheer was later taken into custody.
Muhammad Amin, the investigating officer for this case, affirms that the ongoing investigation of the accused, Shaheer, will be conducted thoroughly, and the case outcome will be determined solely on its merits.
He emphasises that in such cases, ensuring that the affected person undergoes a medical examination without delay is imperative. The girl was promptly taken to Tehsil Hospital Chicha Watani and transferred to the District Hospital for further evaluation. The final opinion of the district hospital’s doctor is still pending, and the case can advance only after receiving this assessment.
Nadeem Hassan, the girl’s legal representative, points out that the initial report from Tehsil Hospital Chichawatani indicated significant bleeding, which led to the omission of swab samples being collected from the girl. The medical professionals did not include the reason for the excessive bleeding in their report, and the girl was referred to the district hospital after receiving stitches. Conversely, the district hospital report does not clarify the specifics of the incident that the girl experienced.
He has requested to obtain the girl’s treatment record from the hospital, and only after receiving that record will he proceed to apply for a medical board assessment.
As per legal requirements, a medical examination should ideally be conducted within 24 hours in such cases, Nadeem emphasises. However, despite the passage of 22 days in this particular girl’s case, the medical report has yet to provide a clear resolution. He points out that the police have not presented the accused in court yet.
He asserts that the police commonly display a negative attitude towards non-Muslim victims. In this specific case, the victim girl’s family is also enduring substantial pressure. The police are subjecting the girl’s family to unwarranted harassment, urging them to discontinue their pursuit of the case.
Social activist Ashk Naz highlights that the rate of punishment for the accused in cases involving the sexual abuse of children remains considerably low. Such cases tend to experience delays, often causing individuals to abandon their pursuit of justice. Furthermore, litigation within the country is financially demanding, which proves unaffordable for economically disadvantaged individuals.
Joseph Johnson, the chairman of Voice of Justice, points out that girls belonging to religious minorities, such as Javed’s daughter, are specifically singled out for targeting. This is because they are less likely to receive adequate support from the police and other relevant agencies in their endeavour to seek justice.
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Miss Shamsa, a practising lawyer, discloses that she identifies with the minority community. She emphasises that the issue of sexual abuse of young girls is a rife concern within society. Regardless of their religious background, all girls are susceptible to this threat.
This marks the second occurrence of the sexual assault of a Christian girl in Sahiwal within a span of fewer than two years.
Previously, an eight-year-old Christian girl from village 134 Nine L was subjected to sexual assault in September 2021. The victim’s family managed to attain justice through the higher courts, resulting in the conviction of Muhammad Buta, a resident of the same village, who was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. However, due to pressure exerted by the accused’s family, the victim’s family was compelled to relocate to another village.
Published on 9 Aug 2023