The “Sonia Naz” Story
Has the use of rape to silence women become pervasive in our culture? Because of the horrible shame and risk of being killed by one’s own family in an “honor killing”, most victims never speak out. But now we are seeing more and more courageous victims willing to stand up and demand the arrest of their perpetrators in Pakistan. Following Mukhtaran Mai and Dr. Shazia Khalid, another victim of a horrible rape and brutality by officials in charge willing to speak out is a woman in her early twenties, Sonia Naz.
Sonia Naz, 23 and a mother of two, lives in the city of Faisalabad in Pakistan. She spent her days taking care of her two small children and living the uncomplicated life of a Pakistani homemaker.
In April, 2005, Sonia found herself baffled over her husband’s whereabouts. After questioning friends and neighbors, an anxious and terribly apprehensive Sonia learned that her husband had been taken into custody by the Faisalabad police.
Sonia behaved in a manner any caring wife would and could only focus on how to bring husband and father of her two young children back home. Frightened and disturbed, Sonia visited the police stations repeatedly and filed several inquiries relevant to her husband’s arrest. In the end she only faced disappointment and disillusionment.
When Sonia was at her wits end and had no idea of who else she could turn to, she decided to pay a visit to the National Assembly in Islamabad and speak with the people who might have the power to get some answers.
Those responsible at the National Assembly were shocked to see a housewife enter their private preserve and question them, these assembly officials turned out to be Sonia’s worst nightmare. Instead of helping her, they accused her of unlawfully entering the Assembly building and handed her over to the Faisalabad police. Following this began Sonia’s journey of brutal and inhumane episodes for an entire month.
Sonia Naz, holds the police chief, Khalid Abdullah, responsible for having her locked up in a house for 15 days and having ordered one of his officers to repeatedly rape and beat her. Sonia said that the rape incidents were her punishment for questioning her husband’s arrest and making an effort toward his release.
Sonia, ready to commit suicide, stopped herself from doing so only because she worried what would become of her two children if she too, like their father were no longer around. Sonia, like Mukhtaran Mai and Dr. Shazia Khalid, build up the courage to go public with the malevolent acts of her rapist and the police chief who ordered her rape.
Soon after, Pakistani Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, afraid for his country’s reputation abroad, made an inquiry into Sonia’s case which lead to the suspension of police chief, Khalid Abdullah. “Strict action will be taken against all those found involved in this incident”, guaranteed prime minister, Aziz.
However, Sonia’s ghastly experiences did not end here. Similar to the painful incidents following Dr. Kali and Mukhtaran Mai’s rape, Sonia too was a victim of slander and disownment from her family. The official that was suspended by Prime Minister Aziz, began bad mouthing Sonia and accused her of being, “a liar and a woman of bad character”.
At present, Sonia Naz says that she will continue her efforts to seek justice even though her husband has refused to stand by her. Sonia’s in-laws have refused to accept her after the rape incident and she believes her life is in danger. “That is why I have taken shelter with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)”, she explained.
Sonia Naz’s troubles are far from over. She is terribly wary of the judicial tribunal for her case, particularly because the judge is a relative of the suspended police chief, Abdullah that ordered her repeated rapes and beatings
Sonia Naz links: