Saba: Pakistan - Equality Now


Saba - Pakistan

Equality Now took on the case of Saba, a 16-year-old girl who was gang-raped by police officers in Pakistan, kidnapped and denied justice.

2010: Saba is raped by police officers

Police officers enter 16-year-old Saba’s home on the pretext of looking for her brother in connection with a minor incident. Her brother wasn’t home. Saba is taken from her home, drugged and gang-raped.

2011: Equality Now and our partner take on Saba's case

Saba, now pregnant, is sold to two men by her kidnappers. During the exchange, she manages to escape. Though traumatized, she is able to give identifying details of some of the accused kidnappers.

Through our local partner Blue Veins, Equality Now learns about Saba’s plight and takes on her case with the goal of setting a precedent to end police impunity for violence against women and girls.

While Saba and her impoverished family try to fight for justice, alleged police corruption and threats from local fundamentalists make it difficult. Saba’s family is attacked outside a local courthouse and her brother is fatally shot. Despite witness accounts of the murder, the senior investigating police officer refuses to take action. Pressure from human rights groups and the media prompted the Pakistani government to take action on both cases.

In December, following the Peshawar High Court's call for strict action against all perpetrators and the police officers who failed to take action in the rape and murder cases, 14 people were arrested in the rape case and 29 police officers were suspended.

DNA samples are taken from the baby and the alleged rapists, but did not result in a match to any of the suspects. The Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court orders Saba to undergo multiple lie detector tests and finds the results inconclusive. We write to the court expressing great concern about subjecting a rape victim to lie-detector testing, which is psychologically damaging and - given the inconclusive nature of the results - highly prejudicial. In June, the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan dismisses its inquiry into this case.

Following the remand of the case from the High Court, on 31 January the lower court acquits the defendants, including several police officers, in the gang rape case. We are concerned for the safety of Saba and her family after this ruling, as they will no longer have state protection - and they have already been targeted for bringing the case.

2012: Saba gives birth

Saba gives birth to a baby girl. We strategize with partners about ways to protect her and her family.