SAHIWAL: In at least sixth such incident during the last two weeks, a woman was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon while she was alone on the street.

The latest incident occurred on Monday evening when the wife of Ghulam Husain, a resident of Scheme No 3, was returning home after jogging in Ladies and Children Park in Farid Town.

Like the previous incidents, a motorcyclist intercepted the woman and stabbed her in the chest with a sharp-edged weapon. She received deep cuts and had to be taken to the hospital for dressing and treatment. Out of the six women who were attacked, three would regularly jog in the park.

Farid Town police said no such case was reported.

These attacks have created panic among the women, especially the working ones, the students, regular walkers and those who have to frequently visit markets for buying grocery and shopping alone.

Ms Rasheeda, a regular evening walker, said many women felt threatened because of these incidents.

According to the data gathered by Dawn after contacting the family members of five women in Barki Street, Bilal Colony, Tariq Bin Ziyad Colony and Farid Town areas, the pattern of all attacks was similar.

In all the cases, except one, those attacked were housewives. So far only one student has been targeted.

Those discussing these incidents in local social circles are of the opinion that the attacks could be work of a psycho, a jilted lover or some fanatic associated with some sectarian outfit. Many local women rights activists say these incidents are further curtailing the independence of women who are already under pressure because of various social and cultural taboos.

“Already women have to face many cultural taboos while moving out (alone) but such attacks on them are enough to force them to stay home,” says Ms Asifa Asif, the field coordinator of a Lok Sujag, a body working to highlight social, cultural and rights issues.

Despite gravity of the issue, the local police are making no efforts to trace the culprit(s). Similar incidents had been reported in Chichawatni last year but no tangible results could be achieved by the police because of various factors, including their lack of interest.

Chichawatni police record shows six such attacks on women were reported there.

Police sources admitted that though one or two guys were interrogated in this connection but these turned out to be isolated incidents motivated by personal grudge.

“Many are convinced we (police) failed to arrest or trace the right guy,” a police insider admitted seeking anonymity.

Concerned circles claim that more than 60 such incidents occurred in Chichwatni but the victims and their families chose not to report to police for fear of being stigmatised.

Rao Shafiq, a former educationist, says: “Male members or heads of family prefer not to report such matter to police in a patriarch​ society.”

The women who regularly jog or walk in the Ladies and Children Park demanded while talking to Dawn that police should not wait for victims to report and ply a proactive role in nabbing the culprit(s).

“Threat has been created in the community. Now it is time to respond effectively,” Naeem Naqvi, a political worker, said.

“Many of the regulars have stopped jogging in the park. Now it is our duty to respond to the critical situation instead of waiting for more victims,” Ms Saima Ahmed of Y-Block said.

Ms Naheed, a bank manager, apprehended that the pattern of attacks on women could be used to settle personal scores.

“It’s already established the attacker will not be arrested,” she added.

Mr Sabah Masood, a feature writer of a local news website, said: “What if the victims are not daring to report the matter to police. The community at large knows this is regularly happening around us. Is it not enough for law enforcing agencies to respond and restore the depleting confidence of women who move alone,” he argued.

According to sources, out of five victims, the family of only one dared to report the incident to Farid Town police and got registered an FIR (624/15) on Sept 5.

Investigation Officer Muhammad Arif said no progress could be made in the case.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2015

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