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
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: