In 2007, 13-year-old Kainat Soomro, a girl from Dadu, alleged that she had been kidnapped and gang raped by four men in Dadu, Sindh. One of the accused however said that he and Kainat had gotten married of their own choice in 2007, and her father was a greedy man who wanted to use his daughter so that the accused would pay Soomro’s family money. Fast forward the years, and a long trial, and on Thursday, the City Court acquitted the four accused in the case. While one can write numerous essays on why it took three years for a verdict to be passed, a fellow journalist remarked before the verdict, a sentiment also echoed by others who attended the hearing: “The case is fake. Her father wanted her to become the next Mukhtaran Mai.”
While the case may have very well been an allegation by a father, the fact that people think Mukhtaran Mai is a status symbol of sorts to be looked up to is rather shocking, to say the least. Firstly, if Kainat’s father wanted her to be the next Mukhtaran Mai, so that Kainat would also get famous and in the process earn money, and hence fabricated the allegations, he is guilty of using his daughter as a pawn to get fame and money. On the other hand, what kind of sick, depraved person would want to parade their daughter around as a rape victim?
Now, mind-boggling quotes from the judgement, as reported by Dawn:
“It appeared from the testimony of the victim that she was gang-raped by the accused persons at the shop, but in the same breath she deposed that at the time she was unconscious, the judge said. “I am unable to swallow the factum of gang-rape in unconscious condition. The doctor could not find any mark of violence on the soul of prosecutrix. No medical evidence is available on record which transpires that the prosecutrix subjected to zina-bil-jabar”
In Pakistan, medico-legal officers have already come under much scrutiny for not carrying out proper investigations of rape victims. Secondly, due to lack of awareness, pressure from the family, and other factors, women do not preserve evidence, take a shower, and do not visit the hospital for an exam within 24 hours of the rape having taken place.
““In Sharia, puberty is sufficient for consummation of a marriage. I, therefore, found no hesitation to hold that in presence of a Nikkah, the offence of zina for accused Ahsan is also engulfed under the thick cloud of doubt and the prosecution did not bother to take pain in removing these doubts,” it concluded.”
Now, even if there is a nikah (marriage certificate) present between Ahsan (the accused) and Kainat (the victim), if Kainat was raped, whether she was married or not is inconsequential. Rape = Rape. Whether its premarital rape or marital rape, it doesn’t take away from the horror of being forced to have sex. Secondly, according to the law, the legal age at which a girl can be married is 16. Kainat was only 13 if she did get married to Ahsan in 2007.
Last, but not the least: Kainat’s case went on for three years. Regardless of whether she was raped or not, three years is a very long time. While courts remained close to non-functional till mid-2009 due to the judicial crisis, it has now been almost a year since the Chief Justice of Pakistan was reinstated. Can the powers that be please focus on ensuring at least one fundamental right: access to justice?