This is such an unfortunate trend that rape victims have to suffer their entire lives in our society. The perpetrators of sexual assault instead of being taken to the task for their heinous crimes enjoy the privilege of going scot free due to prevailing patriarchal social structures.
According to SP Investigation, Khyber a single rape case has been registered in the district following the merger of the Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The official said that police jurisdiction was extended to the district shortly after the merger in April 2019.
He said that before the merger, majority of sexual assault cases were resolved through local jirga (assembly of notables) or the political agents.
However, even after the extension of police to the region, people choose not to report incidents of sexual assault due to social and cultural reasons.
Mostly, such issues are brushed under the carpet due to certain inevitable inter-dependencies. As a result, locals either keep such incidents to themselves or in case of being public knowledge; a jirga is called to bury the issue instead of reporting the crime to relevant authorities.
Post merger, three police stations were setup in Khyber and six more were added later. Despite introduction of policing at grassroots levels, majority still do not know to approach whom over such an issue, according to the official.
Rape cases are much more sensitive in these areas; therefore people should be aware legal procedure to follow like how to report and the importance of reporting these issues.
Before merger, there was no record of such cases due to absence of police. Most of such cases were solved at homes or through jirgas.
Naheed Rehman, a political activist from the Khyber district said that rape cases usually take place in the families and people don’t report such incidents because it brings shame for the entire family.
“So they first try their best to resolve through family, otherwise they take it to a jirga to solve it as per the local terms. Generally, rape cases outside the family are rare because of the limitation on women mobility,” she said.
The reported case in the Khyber district was of a married woman whose father-in-law was forcing her into having illicit relations with him.
The women refused his advances and informed her husband and mother-in-law but her husband insisted she should fulfil his father’s desire.
She refused to objectify her own body and that lead towards a conflict in their relationship which later on ended with a divorce.
After this unfortunate incident, she married another guy, but a few days later her ex-husband again asked her for marriage with the promise that she will live in a separate house.
According to the female, her husband forcefully took her to Jamrud and raped her. Now she is pregnant, so the DNA of the child will be the prime evidence as there is a lack of evidence from the complainant side and the accuser is in custody.
According to the SP investigation, in such cases, honour killings are at their peak. People call it “Toor”. Unfortunately, it is still happening despite the establishment of the police system.
He said that at least police have this power to take over the control if they get to know about these kinds of incidents.
Noreen Naseer, a professor by profession said that these cases are happening everywhere but only those incidents are on the record where honour killings or an unwanted pregnancy happens.
She narrated an incident that happened in the Khyber district back in 2014-15 where a man was raping his daughter after his wife passed away. When the girl pregnancy become apparent, her teachers noticed it and reported to a local jirga.
The local jirga in turn decided that the culprit father along with the victim should be killed. Due to such kind of incidents, people usually do not report rape cases and females choose silence, she said.
Tahira Kaleem, a women rights activist said that women were not only victims of sexual assault and even men and young boys were also being victimised in certain scenarios.
“Rape is not just fulfilment of the sexual desires but it is mostly the manifestation of power. Sometimes females are raped to shame the tribe and if the female who is being raped is then married to the rapist, so they celebrate it as a success”, she said.
Mamarha Afridi, an investigative journalist hailing from Khyber district said that “Local media is unable to take action due to the social and cultural restrictions because they are afraid to highlight these rape incidents.
She said that the reason is that they are also from the same area and they know that if we highlight these cases it will affect their lives. This is due to the inter-dependencies and strict outdated social and cultural norms in practice.
“Therefore nobody even wants to discuss it. The only solution is to let the people aware especially females about the legal procedures in tackling this kind of unfortunate incident,” Ms Afridi said.
SP Investigation said that post merger, police department allocated 10 per cent quota to female in all vacancies in district. Unfortunately, no one applied for them and the vacancies were still vacant.
Due to the absence of female staff, sexual assault cases are usually not reported, but I think with the passage of time people will realize the importance of female police and start reporting these cases to police, he added.