On October 4, 2011, the media reported of a teen aged girl who was abducted from her home in the last quarter of 2010 in the KP province who miraculously escaped from those who were holding her captive at the time, got in touch with her brother telephonically and managed to reunite with her family.

The girl was victim of the most heinous forms of abuse and violence, and her family suffered untold pain and suffering. The story has many threads to it and like a fiction story is a case of family quarrels, exploitation of the poor and weak by the better off among the relatives, male lust, the collusion of the forces of law and order with the stronger element of the society.

Uzma Ayub is the only daughter of Ayub Khan of Takhte Nasrati, a one- time sepoy in the Pakistan Army. She has six brothers and both parents are alive and witness to the tragedy of the ruined life of their only young daughter. According to her brother she was born in 1994 and at the time of her abduction she was a student of 9th Class.

The family is of modest background and meager means of livelihood. They have relatives of stronger social and economic background, including a doctor and a teacher.

In 2005, a young boy related to Dr. Iqbal was kidnapped and the family accused Uzma’s brother, Alamzeb of the crime. Resultantly, Alamzeb spent 18 months in jail and was ultimately acquitted by the session Judge.  The boy was killed by his kidnappers and his body was found in a field.

In another thread in the story, the mother of Naseebullah (a married man but issueless and serving in the Pak Army) asked for Uzma’s hand in marriage to her son. Uzma’s mother, due to their weak position in the village, did not reject the proposal but responded that her daughter was young and studying and she wanted to wait before getting her married. She also stipulated that Naseebullah should take his wife’s consent to the second marriage. The wife refused to consent to his second marriage and conveyed this personally to the girl’s mother.

Sometime later, Naseebullah came to Alamzeb house and in a show of camaraderie and no grudges held, invited Alamzeb to a local musical concert, but on his unwillingness, he made another story and got him to come to his “baitak” where there were two other guests, one from the village of Hakeem Khan, ASI, named by Uzma as one of the rapists.  Subsequently, he was accused of theft of one of the guest’s mobile which was stated to cost Rs. 50,000/-. The person who was supposed to have had his mobile stolen insisted on getting the same mobile back. Alamzeb kept denying the theft. Alamzeb even responded that he would pay the money if the persons accusing him swore on the Holy Quran over their head that the mobile was stolen.

Another incident of framing Alamzeb was at a football game in the village. A group of people loyal to the family of Dr. Iqbal and apparently with his connivance disrupted the game and started shooting. The men set upon Alamzeb and beat him severely. He also received a bullet in his thigh. Alamzeb was accused of firing and a case registered against him.

There was a case of the abduction of Principal of a local school and the local people held a rally against the police for his recovery. Hakeem Khan, the ASI, had some persons from the underworld inducted into the rally. The demonstrators were surprised to hear voices that instead of chanting anti-police slogans were in raised in support of the police.

Some five days later, police came in full force in five vehicles and raided the house of Alamzeb. Hakeem Khan, the ASI, and his party entered by firing in the air and forcing their way into the house. The police did not carry a search or arrest warrant; they were not accompanied by any lady police. The police started throwing articles on the ground. Uzma tried to protect her computer and resisted giving it to the police, whereupon the police rough handled her. She was seized by her hair and dragged out of the house. The police had barged into the house from one door and dragged Uzma through another door at the opposite end of the house. Thus Uzma disappeared until she escaped her captors after a year. Alamzeb was not present in the house at the time.

Uzma’s mother reported the abduction in the local court of Takte Nasrati, an FIR was lodged and orders for the recovery of the girl were issued. When the girl could not be recovered, the FIR was converted into a writ petition in the High Court and the police personnel accused in the FIR (DPO Takhte Nasrati, Thana SHO Mohsin Ali, ASI Hakeem Khan ASI, and ASP Amir) were made to appear before the Court. They were however released on bail. With the failure to have the girl recovered, the case was transferred to the Crimes investigation Committee.

Uzma states that she was dragged by the hair into a waiting car, handed over to her family’s enemies who took her away to an unknown place and locked her in a room. At night several men came into the room, including Dr. Iqbal who gave her an injection and she fell unconscious. She thinks she was shifted two times and every time before the shifting, Dr. Iqbal would give her an injection to make her unconscious. She was sexually assaulted by several men, including Naseeb Ullah, Sardar Ali, Shakeel, Guley, Karim, Qamar Ali, Hakim Khan and Alam Ustad during her incarceration. The last time she was in the custody of two turbaned persons who she suspects of having been sold to. She tried to get their confidence by telling them that she would not escape. One day, they came and informed her that they were taking her to D.I.Khan where she would permanently reside. They got her into a car and on the way they stopped in Bannu for some reason and got out of the car and went away. This proved Uzma’s salvation as she got out and ran into a nearby shop. She managed to get to a PCO and telephoned Alamzeb who advised her to reach the Bannu bypass.

Uzma had Rs.300/- tied in her  “Narha”, a common practice in the rural areas and she was  thus able to telephone her brother and take a taxi to reach her brother. Alamzeb was able to find her.

Alamzeb took her straight to the Tehsil Court, Takte Nasrati. The enemies tried to obstruct their entry by appearing in a number of vehicles but they managed to make their statement before their arrival. The Judge telephoned the Crimes Investigation Branch and Uzma and family went to Peshawarto have her statement recorded. In her statement she accused Police personnel SHO Mohsin Ali, ASI Hakeem Khan and Amir Ali of sexually abusing her. In all, she named 13 persons as involved in her abduction and rape.   

Rape victim stands against the police and government officials who are trying to settle her case outside the court

The perpetrators have now requested the court to grant permission to settle the case outside the justice system.

But Uzma has refused and asserted her conviction that the perpetrators should be prosecuted according to the law.

Uzma and her lawyer, Javed Akhter, pointed out that the perpetrators’ attempts to settle the case outside the court is tantamount to a confession, before the court, that they were involved in the rape. The court now should take action against them. The victim refuses to settle the case outside the court, the court should refuse such privileges to the perpetrators.

In a separate incident, on November 30, about 35 persons went to the house of Uzma. They claimed that they were sent by Pir Mohsin station house officer (SHO) Ameer Khan, Sub Inspector Hakeem Khan, Assistant Sub-Inspector of Takhte Nusrati police station and the perpetrators. They announced that they wanted to settle the incident. They told Uzma that they would pay her whatever compensation she required. Once more, the victim refused any offer of settlement. The delegation consisted of influential elders of the area who were forced by the police to pressure the victim for settlement.

One day before, relatives of Hakim Khan, the main perpetrators, telephoned to Uzma and threatened her that if she did not repel her case she would face serious problems.

The provincial government is trying to tamper with the content of the report produced by the inquiry committee, which was headed by the provincial secretary of interior. The committee had recommended the arrest of the perpetrators of rape and abduction.

The head of the committee says News that the committee wanted to take further interviews with the victim’s father and her brother.

It is ironical that the provincial police, the government and the courts are trying to provide impunity to the perpetrators by delaying their arrest of perpetrators, including the soldier, and are forcing the victim to settle the case outside the judicial system.  The whole state machinery of theprovinceofKhyber Pakhtunkhais attempting to protect the perpetrators, perverting the justice system and making  a mockery of the law.  For the citizens of the province, this is an aberration and an inexplicable abuse of power.

The courage of the rape victim is admirable. It should be respected by the authorities. She stands to bring to an end heinous crimes perpetrated against girls and women. Her bravery is a slap on the face of those who are providing unlawful support to the rapists. Her courage and integrity should inspire the authorities to uphold the principles of justice and dignity she is fighting for, bring the perpetrators to justice and take all the measures in their possession to eradicate violence against women.

Human rights organisations from the KP province have opened an account to raise fund in support of the victim’s legal battle and birth of the child. Following is the account details:
Noor Education Trust – Donation A/c # 022479002497 – 03. Habib Bank Limited.
Swift # habbpkka 224. Routing # 026007809

It would be an honour to die with my head up than to live like a coward having my eyes down, Uzma says in an interview

Despite the huge offer made on part of the accused officials for settlement of the case out of court, Uzma Ayub, a teenage pregnant victim rejected the deal and said adamantly that she would fight against them through court.

Additional Session Judge Ihtisham Ali Takht-e-Nasrati in district Karak on December, 4 did not confirm their bail before arrest and sent them to jail for five days on physical remand.

In an interview Uzma Ayub said, ”I don’t know what will happen next whether the criminals would be brought to justice or be released after some time as a great number of influential people are at their side but today I am happy as they would also realize how it feels when one is detained.”

She said about 30 to 40 elders from ASI Hakeem Khan’s area Gudikhel including Shah Abdul Aziz member of provincial assembly on November, 2 had come to our house and said to my brother Alamzeb that Hakeem Khan, Pir Mohsin Shah and Ameer Khan had confessed their crime before them and wanted to compensate and ready to accept their demand whatever it may be.

Again after asking the judge to adjourn the case till December, 2 and then requesting for 24 hours more time, the party had been to the aggrieved family in the evening with the same request but even then Uzma and her family did not accept the agreement.

Uzma said, ”what about the abuse, torture and pain that I have suffered because of them during the entire year when they had kept me in confinement,” adding “can anything in this world get me back that one horrible year of my life which I was supposed to spend with my family but these beasts made me spend it in a dark room”, she questioned.

She said that the accused persons had threatened her and her family as well asking them to take back the case or get ready for dire consequences, but what more bad they could do to me as they have ruined my life already and made me a woman before time, she added.

She said the last chance with the criminals is to kill her and her family and they are ready for that too. ”For me it would be an honour to die with my head up than to live like a coward having my eyes down, in fact” she added saying she is as determined as was on the first day when she had escaped from the captivity of the kidnappers.

To a query the soon would be single parent said, “It’s true that the child I am carrying in womb will always remain father less but what I know this that I am his/her mother and the most painful stage is yet to come when he/she will ask me the question. Adding still I am determined to give birth to this child, rear and get it a respectable status in the society.”

She said though its natural in a Pashtun society not to accept an unmarried woman with her fatherless child still the only thing that console me is that my child is not an outcome of an adultery but its existence is based on the malice on part of the men who are also a part of the same society. And I hope that this society would accept and treat my child like other children keeping this in view that I was innocent.

”I could get rid of this child by doing abortion but my conscience did not allow me to kill it as I know that it is a sin in Islam to take life of a human being”, she said adding my life has already been stigmatic even if I had rid myself of this baby still I wouldn’t have not been given a respectable status but now at least I have got a reason to live in the form of this child.

She said that I believe if Allah has made beasts like men i.e. Hakem Khan, Pir Mohsin Shah and others He (Allah) would have also created some kind hearted people as well who will definitely understand my agony.

She further said it was quite easy to settle the issue with the wronged persons with in the walls of our home and accept their proposal but had I accepted the offer how would I live with the guilt as only me and Allah knows what wrong and to what extent they have done to me.

”You won’t believe that I can’t even sleep and nights when I recall their brutality and I have got tired cursing them day and night”, she said adding I want them to be given exemplary punishment so any other man could never be able to dare and think of committing any such crime in his life.

She said whatever she has suffered would never be healed, she knows that well but she doesn’t want any other girl to become Uzma and fall prey to such beasts.

With eyes welled-up she said, ”Even if I want still I can never forgive them for their cruelty because they haven’t hurt my body only but also left scars on my soul which will never be visible to anyone but I will feel and remember them always”.

She said different nongovernmental organizations had approached her for financial assistance and asked them to create a minor account but surprisingly a single penny has not been deposited in it so far.

Uzma thanked her lawyer Javez Akhtar for fighting her case free of cost but on the basis of humanity and also appreciated the provincial government for investigating the case and finding out the ground truth.

She said that as a part of investigation she was asked by the medical board to visit Peshawar for determination of her age but she couldn’t reach the place as in the letter from the medical board Deputy Superintendent of Police Sajid Mohmand was requested to bring them with full security but when they reached Peshawar he ordered the guards to leave them half way.

Explaining the ordeal she mentioned that due to ignorance about the city she along with her brother Alamzeb couldn’t find the exact place where they were supposed to go and that’s why they missed appearing before the medical board.

The determination of the rape victim is quite admirable. The relevant authorities must respect her courage and bravery as it’s really like a slap on the face not only of the rapists but also those who have provided them unlawful support. As it’s a very bold step to reject compensation in the form of a huge amount of money and keep on fighting for justice. I think it’s the suitable time for the provincial government and the human rights as well as the judiciary to uphold the principles of justice and dignity she is fighting for by bringing the perpetrators to justice and taking all the measures to eradicate the evil of violence against women from the society.

Brother of a teenage pregnant rape victim was murdered in the court premises-a complete failure of rule of law

The brother of the rape victim, Alamzeb Khattak, 25, a was shot dead on December 9, in the court premises in Karak District by relatives of police officials who were involved in the rape of Uzma Ayub.

The killers were Ibrahim, the brother of main perpetrator assistant sub inspector of police, ASI Hakeem Khan, along with his driver Pir Abdul Waheed, was named by Zafranullah, a brother of the deceased, who saw the killing on the Takht Nusrati court premises.

At the time of incident, three police officials, including Inspector Peer Mohsin Shah, Sub-Inspector Ameer Muhammad and Assistant Sub-Inspector Hakeem Khan and another accused Qamar Ali, involved in the rape of Uzma Ayub, were produced before the court of civil judge Takht Nusrati Mr. Asif Iqbal and their plea of bails were cancelled. Uzma’s elder brother was coming out of the court after the hearing when the said armed assailants opened indiscriminate fire, killing him on the spot. He added that about 5-6 police officials were shot at him but nobody stopped the killers, who escaped safely.

Younger brother of Uzma, Zafranullah, said that after coming out of the court, Alamzeb, his deceased elder brother, asked him to take their mother home and that he would tell him about the hearing later. “When Alamzeb was about to ride his motorbike, a car hit him and Alamzeb tried to run away, but Pir Abdul Waheed, the driver, held him and Ibrahim, the brother of Sub Inspector Hakeem Khan, shot him on his head and chest. Alamzeb was sprayed with five bullets.” He told to the daily the News reporter Farzana Khan that he and his mother Bilqees Begum had left for the court in the morning and when they reached there, they found about 50 persons present on the premises of the court as supporters of Hakeem Khan from Gudikkhel area and protesting against the hearing afterwards.

The car that hit Alamzeb was a theft car having slate colour with fake registration number of 899, and was in the use of District Police Officer, the highest ranking police officer of the district, Sajid Mohmand, which was being used to bring the perpetrators from the jail.

The rape victim was receiving threats calls from the police officials and Taliban to withdraw the case against the police officials and army soldier.

Just three days before the incident of murder around 35 persons were sent by the Takhte Nusrati police station to the house of rape victim and pressured her family to withdraw case and accept the compensation which she refused. The people threatened the victim’s family of dire consequences.

A call of Sub inspector Hakeem Khan from jail was also received by the victim in which he categorically warned the mother of victims saying that “I am anyway in jail, but soon Bilqees Begum (Uzma’s mother) will receive a gift from me.”

The provincial government and police had been informed about the security threats to the family of the victims but these were totally ignored. One of the causes of ignoring the threat call by the government is that KP government never has shown any concern about the violence against women.

Its members of parliament are also totally ignorant of the situation which rape victim was facing because of the so called “Pakhtun customs” according to which the women should have to remain as the secondary citizen in their society.

The provincial government always calls itself secular but when the question of violence against women comes its attitude is no more different from the Taliban. This is the province where still the women are being stoned to death in open places on the accusation of adultery. In latest bye elections the political parties including the ruling party have reached to an agreement wherein it was declared that women can not cast the votes.

The killing raised serious questions about the security provided to the young rape victim and her family, specially after three police officials were arrested for the crime. The daylight murder also confirmed fears raised by numerous human rights organisations about Uzma’s safety.

The killing of the brother of the rape victim is the clear demonstration of failure of rule of law in the KP province where the victim was killed in court premises in the presence of not less than 50 policemen and many staff members of the courts. The rule of law is generally undermined in the province by the law enforcement authorities and ruling party. For the government and ruling party such incidents are the part of daily routine. The security of the citizens is also not the issue of the government and ruling parties. The highest crime rates against the women are recorded in the KP province.

Sex sells. Sensational stories on sex crimes sell even better. And in the gang-rape case of Uzma Ayub, the Pakistani media seems to have truly set up shop.

The 17-year-old victim has been hounded by journalists from her house to her hospital bed, narrating her experiences of abduction and gang-rape to reporters and millions of viewers across the globe – again and again.

What the family first saw as a means of getting justice, has come back to bite them. “No reporter has ever sought permission to enter our house. It is disgraceful,” said her 18-year-old brother Zafran, who was too disconcerted by journalists to comment any further.

Now Zafran handles the media, juggling consistent calls from reporters between his newfound family responsibilities and studies.

Television channels were most intrusive the day Uzma gave birth to her child. Almost all news channels showed images of the mother and the newborn girl. But what was most atrocious was when hours after the delivery, a reporter from ARY News managed to get inside the hospital
room and asked the rape victim how she felt about her child being taken away by an NGO, if Uzma was sure the baby belonged to her and whether she was happy about her birth.

In a frail voice, the 17-year-old mother, lying on a bed with a veil on her face and the newborn next to her, answered all questions live on national television.

Reporter Shazia Nasir sees the January 20 interview as part of the game. “It is completely unethical to ask such questions, but there is too much pressure on reporters to get the story. If I would not have done it, Express News or GEO would have.”

The excessive media coverage has made the victim an object of judgement. In the case of Uzma Ayub, the victim has been blamed since the beginning.

One wonders why there are different rules for victims and the accused. If the media names rape victims and shows their pictures, they should do the same for the accused. Giving intimate details about rape victims only allows people to discuss her further.

While some feminist thinkers and legal experts believe it is a victim’s discretion to be identified, it is not fair to put people in the limelight without making them understand the consequences of doing so. People are not really aware of what it means to expose their identity and need to be trained to deal with reporters. It is not fair to throw a person in front of the media just because it
makes a good story.

The way Uzma Ayub’s case was reported gave the story a different  twist, starting another blame-game. When it comes to the ‘breaking news’ bandwagon, nobody gives two hoots about anything. All television channels need to sit together and work out a way to control such reporting.

It is both unethical and illegal to identify rape victims in the media. One of the fundamental rights provided by the Constitution is the right to privacy. As the Fourth Estate, the media
must respect the Constitution.

Journalists need to understand that it causes “immeasurable psychological trauma” to a victim when she sees her face across television channels and newspapers.

There are also trickle-down effects of irresponsible reporting. Many rape victims withdraw their cases if they are too pressurised by the media and NGOs.