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Pak rape victims calls on Musharraf

Dr Shazia Khalid, who was raped by unidentified men in Balochistan, has asked the President to appoint a commission of inquiry.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 14:37 IST

After Mukhtaran Mai, another Pakistani rape victim has highlighted the plight of her country's women at the international fora where she urged President Pervez Musharraf to appoint an independent commission of inquiry comprising lawyers and human rights experts to look into her case.

Dr Shazia Khalid, who worked in a hospital run by state-owned gas supplier Pakistan Petroleum Ltd in Balochistan, was raped by unidentified men while on duty.

She was then allegedly forced to flee the country along with her family.

"Think of me as your daughter and use your powers to bring justice to bear in my case.

I have not received justice in my case. In addition to fighting for justice in my own case, I also want to fight for justice for other women," pleaded the 32-year old physician who still carries the trauma of her ordeal including being sent to a psychiatric hospital in Karachi instead of being treated for her wounds.

Shazia is the second high profile victim-turned-activist who has used international forum to bring out the atrocities committed on women in Pakistan.

Mukhtaran Mai, who was raped by four persons on the orders of a village Council, was recently at the United Nations relating the plight of women in her country.

Mai came to the UN after an attempt by Pakistan UN mission to deny her to speak at the Untied Nations at a meeting organized by a NGO backfired and it came under strong criticism.

Addressing a press conference organized by Equality Now, a non-government organisation, Shazia rejected the suggestion that she had accepted a deal from the government under which she voluntarily left the country.

Khalid maintained that she was forced into exile as the government wanted to get rid of the political and security problems sparked by reports of her rape.

The doctor told journalists, a majority of whom were from Pakistan, that she would return to the country once the independent commission starts inquiry.

She took to task those who suggest that publicising Pakistani causes outside the country or raising voice for justice gives Pakistan a bad name.

"The real bad name is given to the country when it is unwilling to bring criminals to justice and when judiciary and law enforcement are not independent."

Pakistan Human Rights Commission, Equality Now said, has reported that 10,000 women are raped every year though, the Equality said, the actual figure is much higher.

As in all countries, women are often reluctant to report rape, for social reasons as well as distrust of the judicial process, it said, adding that in Pakistan, there are additional legal barriers to pursuing a rape conviction.

Maintaining that women in Pakistan are victims of severe discrimination, Equality said the Hudood Ordinances requires either the confession of the perpetrator or the eye-witness testimony of at least four Muslim adult male witnesses to the rape.

If she is unable to prove rape, a woman who reports rape to the police is vulnerable to prosecution herself for fornication if she is unmarried or adultery if she is married.