Life after rape
Javeria not only had to put up with the reality of what had happened to her, but at the same time, bear the prejudice of her relatives. The many taunts passed on by neighbours, and worse still, from her own family, made her sad and for a very long time she felt that it was her own fault. Her only friend in the neighbourhood, Naima, was not allowed to meet her, and thus, she lost contact with her best friend as well
By Saher Baloch
The husband of 20-year-old Javeria Ali, Amir, is among the very few men to have received psychological counseling of being in a relationship with a rape survivor. Unlike Amir, many carry with them the biases against rape survivors that have been ingrained through “societal values,” while the victims themselves seek some form of support in dealing with something not of their own doing.
“Our close relatives gradually stopped coming to our place once they got to know that I am a rape survivor,” said Javeria Ali. At a young age of 16, Javeria was raped by her own uncle, the memory of which still haunts her, as her big brown eyes cloud over, remembering the trauma of four years back. Now married, she says that she can not take even small decisions as she feels unable to carry them forward and fears making a mistake.
There can be no empathy when it comes to understanding the trauma of being raped. In a society where alleged rapists roam free, many rape survivors are unable to get some psychological counseling. Worse still, those who interact with these women are unable to understand and connect with rape survivors.
Even though Javeria went through a full physical examination by a doctor in Civil Hospital Karachi after her ordeal, she was not asked to come for a counselling session, which Dr Summaiya Tariq, Medico Legal Officer at CHK says is not felt necessary by the doctors on duty. Speaking about the loopholes in the medical fraternity, she says that “There is no systematic way of treating a rape survivor in hospitals. There is a particular way of communicating with them and treating them which is not considered by anyone,” which leaves many of them on the mercy of their surroundings and family members, who may not be as understanding.
“The anguish and pain a rape survivor has to go through is tremendous especially in our part of the world, as people are constantly rude to them and pass off rude comments,” says Shiraz, an officer at War Against Rape. He explained that the process for a rape survivor can be made easy with the support and care of their family. Speaking about Javeria’s case he said that her husband was given counseling sessions after their marriage as he used to be mean to her. “Now he is comparatively better and takes care of her as well. But Javeria will need counseling for the rest of her life as she has the tendency to be quiet and not share what she is feeling.”
Living in a congested locality of Machar Colony, Javeria looks silently around her in her two room flat and seems pre-occupied as she narrates what happened to her. The shock of being raped at the age of 16, that too by her own uncle is still fresh in her mind. Talking about it she says that she has no regrets but at times she says she feels hopeless that whatever she has will be taken away from her.
Being born and brought up in Gujarat, Javeria was brought to Karachi by her mother who left her in her paternal aunt’s home as she wanted her to pursue education. After getting through the fourth grade, her education was stopped as the family could not afford her monthly fees.
“It was my fault entirely,” says Fatima, her aunt looking at her guiltily, “as I trusted that man too much.” Azhar Hussain was adopted by Fatima’s husband as he was an orphan and no one in the family was willing to adopt him. He was given the responsibility of taking care of the kids and looking after the house. Fatima gave him the responsibility so that he could stay occupied and not become a drug addict, “which is cheap and easily available in our area.” Eventually he got married and his visits became more frequent.
Looking down at her hands, Javeria says that one day he asked her to accompany him to a nearby place. The nearby place, turned out to be a far off place from her colony as Azhar Hussain took her in a run down house. “Before I could ask him anything he said that he wants to marry me and asked me to do as he said, I tried running away but it was too late.” Javeria says she was dragged and slapped repeatedly and even tried screaming but he covered her mouth with his hand.
At home no one knew what happened and it was only when it was time for evening prayers that Fatima knew something has happened to Javeria. “I can not walk properly but that day I ran from house to house searching for her.” After three hours Javeria was found in an old house unconscious and filthy. “I do not have kids of my own that is why I kept her with me and looking at her that way tore my heart, I wanted to kill myself.”
From that day on, Javeria not only had to put up with the reality of what had happened to her but at the same time bear the prejudice of her relatives as well. The many taunts passed on by the neighbours and worst still from her own family made her sad and for a very long time she felt that it was her own fault. Her only friend in the neighborhood, Naima was not allowed to meet her and so she lost contact with her as well.
“Many of those who do not come at my place now, are the ones I took care of when they were kids, but maybe we had to go through that,” she adds sadly. Frustrated with the constant bickering and nasty comments by her relatives, Javeria was married in haste to a 30-year-old man, Amir Ali, who besides being unemployed was also a drug addict, but married her nonetheless. He is presently going through counseling at a local NGOs office in order to bridge the communication gap between the couple. When asked if she is happy now, with a year old son in tow she says yes, quietly. Apparently, nobody asked her whether she wants to get married or not. But after four years and a son she says she has accepted her fate and is in much better condition than before.
In the meantime, not being deterred by the incident, Fatima also lodged an FIR and took the culprit to the court. Azhar Hussain was eventually arrested and was imprisoned for three years but was set free after that. The police is still on a look out for him.
Rape, which makes headlines every few days, is not discussed openly in the metropolis which makes it difficult to address the issues head on. As a result of which the families hide facts and feel embarrassed in sharing the details of the incident. Dr Summaiya says that fear of risking their dignity is the main thing that forces people to keep away from seeking professional help. Dr Summaiya argues and says that the focus of the medical fraternity should be to make people comfortable in seeking help and to make the process of examination simple for the people. “Most importantly a person need reassurance that the person responsible for the counseling is competent and means no harm, which being a long drawn process is gradually happening in our society.” She says with the help of NGOs, who help such people open up, as well as the doctors it can be made possible that families come forward to seek help and counselling.
Source: The News