Woman speaks of forced conversion, denial to lodge FIR of rape, trafficking

Published August 1, 2015
Emmi, a resident of Thatta, narrates her ordeal to journalists at a press conference held at the Madadgar office on Friday. — White Star
Emmi, a resident of Thatta, narrates her ordeal to journalists at a press conference held at the Madadgar office on Friday. — White Star

KARACHI: How women of marginalised communities are suffering at the hands of influential people and the state has turned a blind eye towards their misery came to light at a press conference held on Friday.

Emmi, 30, and resident of Thatta city, is now looking for justice with the help of a non-governmental body providing legal aid to women and child survivors of violence and abuse.

Ironically, however, the police have not only refused to register an FIR on one pretext or another but also sexually harassed her. There is no action from the government side either that has been informed in writing about the case, according to her.

“When I took my complaint to the Thatta police, nobody took me seriously and the staff there started laughing. I was told to go to the house of DSP Makli for FIR’s registration,” said Emmi at the press conference organised by Madadgaar Helpline in its office.

She accused the police official of sexually harassing her. “I have been exploited for eight years and demand justice,” she said as tears rolled down her face.

Emmi’s troubles started when she became friendly with a man over the phone in 2008. The man that she identified as Shahbaz, a resident of Mirpur Sakro, later convinced her to meet him outside her house and kidnapped her with the help of another man, Ramzan.

“They took me to an unknown place where I was confined in a dark room for 20 days, beaten and raped. Then I was sold and taken to Nawabshah,” she said.

In Nawabshah, Emmy was forced to sign some papers to convert her from Hinduism to Islam and arrange her fake marriage with Javed Khaskheli who forced her into prostitution. She attempted twice to escape and was punished.

“I was burnt and initially admitted to a hospital in Nawabshah and later to the Combined Military Hospital in Hyderabad.

I was told that I should identify myself as the wife of Javed,” she told journalists, adding that she was also poisoned by his tormentors.

According to her, she spent about six years in Hyderabad in confinement during which she also met three girls brought for prostitution. She finally managed to escape on the second day of Eid and reached her home in Thatta. It came as a shock to her that her father, the only close relative he had, died following her kidnapping.

“With the help of a friend, I came to a court in Karachi where someone suggested that I should seek help from Madadgaar,” she explained.

She also showed a picture and the national identity card of one of his tormentors to media persons during the briefing.

Giving his remarks, Advocate Zia Awan said his organisation prepared a case for the victim and also contacted relevant police officials in this regard. But the police were not willing to register the case.

“On Thatta police’s insistence that the case didn’t fall in their jurisdiction and that the Mirpur Sakro police should be contacted, we asked the victim to go to the latter. But they also refused to register the case. Both police stations have accepted the complaint, though,” he said.

According to Mr Awan, it was after his NGO received no positive reply from the government side, including minister for culture Sharmila Faruqui, that it decided to highlight the case in the media.

“We have contacted police officials and a sitting minister to take action but all our attempts have been futile. What else an NGO could do. We are not a state,” he said in reply to a question.

“State inaction and justice denial is also a kind of terrorism. We want this case to be seriously investigated and culprits punished,” he said, adding that a number of cases had brought to his knowledge in recent months in which women were trafficked and used for prostitution.

The women, he said, were taken to Afghanistan via Balochistan.

“This case is just the tip of the iceberg. Most cases go unreported. In cases that reach us, often the victims are reluctant to talk to the media. There is a dire need to make the police and the justice system efficient,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2015

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