Hyderabad court refused bail after a hearing on September 29; family claims the
‘murder victim’ cited in the case is alive and well in Kambar Shahadkot
Rape survivor Kainat Soomro does not know about the recent amendments to a law that now afford her and other survivors many more rights. In her words, she is too busy to watch television.
For the past two weeks, the 22-year-old girl has been running pillar to post to secure the release of her ailing father, Ghulam Nabi Soomro, and her brother, who have been incarcerated at the Hyderabad Jail over a fake murder case.
So fake is the said case that the girl who has been declared dead by the petitioner is alive and well in Kambar Shahadkot.
For over two months, Kainat’s father and brother would bear through a three-hour drive from their Karachi residence for every hearing at a court in Hyderabad. But, after a hearing on September 29, the father-son duo was not granted bail and taken to jail.
Kainat and her family are not new to this. Their nine-year-long struggle for justice has been marred with such, and worse, pressure tactics. In 2007, Kainat was gang raped by four men in her native village of Mehar in Sindh. The thirteen-year old was buying toys for her niece at a shop, she says, when she was drugged and taken away to an unknown location where she was raped by each of them. Defying all norms, Kainat’s family refused to settle the matter in a local jirga where Kainat would have been declared a ‘Kari’ — dishonoured for having had sex out of marriage.
Three years later, in 2010, her brother, Sabir Soomro, was murdered by the same people, the family claims.
A framed photograph of Sabir now hangs on a wall of their run-down apartment in Saddar Town. His name has also been etched on the back of a white Suzuki Hi-Roof the family owns – ‘Shaheed Sabir Soomro’.
But nine years later, this is perhaps the weakest I have ever seen her. Kainat is going hysterical; possibly because her aged father has been her greatest support in her fight for justice.
During an interview in 2014, Ghulam Nabi – who was being threatened by hired Lyari thugs at the time – said, “We will not give up our struggle for justice. Even if we die hungry.”
Over the past few years, Kainat’s case has received international attention. She was present in the crowd when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. A documentary on her life, ‘Outlawed in Pakistan’, also won an Emmy Award.
But all of the global interest has done little to help her case. Except, maybe use her case study to form better laws to tackle rape.
The National Assembly, this month, made amendments to honour killing and rape laws which were hailed by rights activists. While amendments to honour killing laws allow the state to fight the case even when the victim’s family has pardoned the perpetrators, the same is not the case with amendments in the rape law.
Human Rights Commission Pakistan’s Zohra Yusuf explains that amendments in the rape law make a DNA test for victims mandatory, penalise the police for delaying investigation, and allow victims to testify in court through an in-camera session.
“Repeating their ordeal in a courtroom full of people is traumatic for the victims,” Yusuf explains.
Will the amendments help Kainat’s case? It is unlikely. Kainat never had a DNA test, a requirement for rape cases — as medical evidence validates that the act of rape has been committed. In Pakistan, where police often delay investigations, this crucial evidence is lost. In the courtroom, only circumstantial evidence is provided – it is the word of the victim against the rapist. For the same reason, all four rapists in Kainat’s case were acquitted by a city court in 2010. Her appeal in the high court is still being heard.
Will she give up? “I have suffered so much. All the men in my family have been taken away from me. It’s just me, my mother and sister. But I will not give up. I will camp outside the press club. Someone will hear me; someone has to!”