Dr. Shazia Khalid, a physician in Pakistan, was raped repeatedly by an Army officer in January. Not only did the authorities not pursue her attacker they threw her into a psychiatric hospital and later forced her and her husband to leave the country and leave their son behind. What's more important here than the deplorable actions of the Pakistani government in Dr. Shazia's case is the system of beliefs widely held in Muslim Pakistan on women, honor and rape.
Excerpts from the two articles follow.
Dr. Shazia took a job by herself two years ago as a doctor at a Pakistan Petroleum plant in the wild Pakistani region of Baluchistan, after Pakistan Petroleum also promised a job for her husband there (that job never materialized). Dr. Shazia's family worried about her safety, but her residence was in a guarded compound and she felt strongly that the women in that region needed access to a female physician.
Then on Jan. 2, Dr. Shazia woke up in the middle of the night, and at first she thought she was having a nightmare. "But this person was really pulling hard on my hair, and then he started pressing on my throat so I couldn't breathe. ... He tied the telephone cord around my throat. I resisted and struggled, and he beat me on the head with the telephone receiver. ... Then he took my prayer scarf and he blindfolded me with it, and he took the telephone cord and tied my wrists, and he laid me down on the bed. I tried hard to fight but he raped me."
The man spent the night in her room, beating her, casually watching television, raping her again and boasting about his powerful connections. A 35-page confidential report by a tribunal describes Dr. Shazia tumbling into the nurse's quarters that morning: "semiconscious ... with a swelling on her forehead and bleeding from nose and ear." Officials of Pakistan Petroleum rushed over and took decisive action.
"They told me to be quiet and not to tell anybody because it would ruin my reputation," Dr. Shazia remembers. One official warned that if she reported the crime, she could be arrested.
That was a genuine risk. Under Pakistan's hudood laws, a woman who reports that she has been raped is liable to be arrested for adultery or fornication - since she admits to sex outside of marriage - unless she can provide four male eyewitnesses to the rape.
Dr. Shazia wasn't sure she dared to report the crime, but she begged for permission to contact her family. So, she says, officials drugged her into a stupor and then confined her in a psychiatric hospital in Karachi.
"They wanted to declare me crazy," Dr. Shazia said bitterly. "That's why they shifted me to a hospital for crazy people."
"When I treat rape victims, I tell the girls not to go to the police," Dr. Shershah Syed, a prominent gynecologist in Karachi, told me. "Because if she goes to the police, the police will rape her."
Rapes occur in Pakistan at an estimated rate of one every two hours, and the rape itself is only the beginning of the horror. As in much of the [Islamic] world, the victim is frequently expected to atone for her "sin" by killing herself, while her attacker goes unscathed.
It didn't work, and the incident provoked unrest in the wild area of Baluchistan, where the rape occurred, because of rumors that the rapist was not only an outsider, but also an army captain. President Pervez Musharraf became determined to make the embarrassment disappear.
So the authorities locked up Dr. Shazia and her husband, Khalid Aman, keeping them under house arrest for two months. Then officials began to hint that Dr. Shazia was a loose woman, perhaps even a prostitute - presumably as a way to pressure her and her husband to keep quiet.
Dr. Shazia, mortified, tried to kill herself. Mr. Khalid and their adopted son, Adnan, stopped her.
Meanwhile, the family's patriarch, Mr. Khalid's grandfather, sent word that because Dr. Shazia had been raped, she was "kari" - a stain on the family's honor - and must be killed or at least divorced. Then, Mr. Khalid said, his grandfather began gathering a mob to murder Dr. Shazia.
General Musharraf was finding this couple's determination to get justice increasingly irritating. So, Dr. Shazia and Mr. Khalid said, the authorities ordered them to leave the country, and warned that if they stayed, they would be killed - by government "agencies" - and that no one would even find their bodies.
When Dr. Shazia demanded that Adnan be allowed to accompany her, the officials warned that there was no time and that she would be murdered if she delayed. Then the officials forced Dr. Shazia to make a video recording in which she thanked the government for helping her. And, she said, they warned her that if she had any contact with journalists or human rights groups, they would strike back at her - or at her relatives still in Pakistan.
"They said, 'We know where your family is here,' " Dr. Shazia recalled.
Pakistan's hudood ordinances, promulgated in 1979, are objectively reprehensible. A rape victim can be arrested for fornication and adultery for having sex outside of marriage unless she can produce four MALE eyewitnesses?
What value is there in a culture where a rape victim should atone for her 'sin' by suicide? And should she demur she is often killed by her family?
To quote Churchill who wrote in the River War:
The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.