Shameful news emerged on Thursday when a first-year student was critically injured as she attempted self-immolation in Muzaffargarh while protesting against a police report which helped her alleged rapist obtain bail.
According to reports, earlier this year she was returning home from her college when the accused, along with his four accomplices, allegedly raped her in a deserted area.
Police registered a case of attempted rape. When a local court granted bail to the main accused on Thursday, the girl went to the local police station and lodged a protest with investigation officer for favouring the accused in his report. She later doused her clothes with petrol and set herself on fire outside the police station in the presence of her younger brother. Some passers-by and policemen took her to Hospital. She was later shifted to Nishtar Hospital in Multan because of her critical condition.
Pakistan is suffering with severe problem of rapes as we keep reading stories of violence against women in newspapers. In this case, victim girl was pressurized by police officials to withdraw her charges against the culprits. When she could not get justice from our system she decided fatal form of protest to register her anguish, which forced legal system to hear her voice. Would an individual take her own life in such a public way if her suffering was not genuine?
Orthodox norms of society become hurdle for rape victims to raise their voice, but this girl putting aside these norms raised voice to get justice but criminal system was not able to respond. This shameful case should serve as a stimulus for change in our attitudes towards sexual assault. Authorities must take stern action against policemen involved in shutting down this case, so the false sense of infallibility surrounding perpetrators of sexual violence falls apart.