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Rape of teenage corpse in Thatta shows women aren’t safe even after death (Opinion)

On August 14, a group of men dug out the corpse of a teenage girl and raped it in Maulvi Ashraf Chandio village near coastal town Ghulamullah in the Thatta area of Sindh province. The shocking incident came to light after the family of the deceased visited the grave day after the girl, who died of natural causes, was buried.

The family found that the grave was dug up and the body missing, adding the body with signs of rape, was later recovered from a nearby jungle.

They informed the local police of the matter but they ignored the matter. The parents of the deceased girl brought the body to the hospital for post-mortem where doctors confirmed the assault on the body.

As soon as the news headlines were seen on national and international media, police sprung into action and arrested one of the accused Rafique Chandio for his alleged involvement in the incident.

“The necrophile was fatally shot by the police when he attempted to escape from custody and started open firing on police,” said Thatta senior police superintendent Dr Imran Khan.
The parents of the deceased man refused to collect his body and the villagers also refused to have him buried in the village graveyard.
Sadiq Ali Memon, special assistant to the chief minister on empowerment of persons with disabilities, claimed he would request financial assistance for the heirs of the victim.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, who rushed to the village to offer condolences to the victim’s family, lashed out at the provincial government and said Ghulamullah town SHO, who was a resident of Sindh chief minister’s constituency, should also be nominated in FIR for his criminal negligence.

He said that Sindh had turned into a state within a state where waderas associated with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruled their respective areas on their own. This is not the first time such an incident has been reported in Pakistan. In 2011, news of a man from Karachi named Muhammad Riyaz who raped more than 48 dead bodies of women shocked the country.

The accused was the caretaker of the graveyard in Karachi’s North Nazimabad Town, and responsible for watering the graves. He was caught after residents of the area complained of dug up graves.
In 2013, a 15-year-old girl’s body was found lying outside her grave in Gujranwala, and was reportedly assaulted sexually.

In 2020, a man was arrested after being caught red-handed raping a corpse of a woman in a graveyard in Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The issue came to light after relatives of those buried at the graveyard noticed that the graves were freshly dug out. On February 28, villagers caught the necrophile red-handed after reportedly seeing him raping a dead woman’s body after digging it out of her grave.

Incidents of violence against women including kidnapping, torture, rape and murder have become a routine in Pakistan. And during the past couple of months dozens of incidents of assault against women have been reported across the country.

Experts reiterate that the Pakistani state has failed its women. Analysts maintain that while there are different layers, nuances, and subtleties to the feminist movement and demands in different parts of Pakistan, all women in the country collectively want the state to do better to ensure that they are safe.
“Recent instances of gender-based violence, is an indicator of the deepening unrest, insecurity, and inequality in Pakistani society,” said Alia Amirali, a Pakistani feminist and academician.

Rights activists maintain that Pakistan has seen enough hashtags and cries for justice; it now must focus time and resources toward taking preventative steps.

Experts say solutions require an acknowledgement of the problem, and openness to discovering uncomfortable truths about ourselves and others. They maintain that collective dehumanization is something that Pakistani society must accept as a reality if we are to step towards transforming it.

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