A criminal court in Chitral on Wednesday sentenced a school gatekeeper to two and a half years of rigorous imprisonment after it found him guilty of causing a teenage girl to commit suicide.
The court had been hearing a two-year-old case pertaining to the suicide of a 17-year-old girl. The victim had been an FSc student in a government school in the far-flung village of Harchin in Upper Chitral's Laspur valley and had taken her own life in 2016.
The girl's mother told the court that her daughter had registered a complaint with police days before she took her own life no Aug 5, 2016, stating that Deedar Wali had been harassing her on her way to school and back home. She also informed the headmaster of the issue, but no action had been taken, the woman said.
She told the court that no one had taken the matter seriously, after which her daughter had become discouraged and committed suicide by consuming poison.
The girl's mother had then registered an FIR against Deedar Wali, a government employee at the school.
The court in its verdict sentenced Wali to rigorous imprisonment for two years under Section 354 of the Pakistan Penal Code (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and six months under Section 506 of PPC (punishment for criminal intimidation). Imprisonment under Section 506 will begin after the sentence awarded under Section 354 has expired.
According to rights groups working in the area, the number of suicides by women has been rising over the past few years. More than five cases have been reported over the past two months. Activists say that many cases go unreported due to lack of police action, family honour and other reasons. They regretted that police do not attempt to investigate suicide cases.
Saima Munir, an activist, told DawnNewsTV that the suicide rate in mountainous regions like Chitral, Swat and Hazara division is higher than urban areas. She described the situation in Chitral as particularly "alarming".
One of the reasons behind the high suicide rate among teenagers is the tough competition in exams among students, and the parents' high expectations from their children. She added that police categorised cases with a similar circumstances as suicide without bothering to investigate and determine the actual cause of death.