Sharifa Bibi in divine court

Despite knocking on the doors of the judiciary and many promises from politicians, Sharifa Bibi still awaits justice

Orphan Sharifa Bibi, 16, was stripped and paraded naked on gunpoint in Garra Matt village of Dera Ismail Khan at half past eight in the morning while returning her home along with fellow village ladies on 27 October 2017.

Ten persons including Rehmatullah, Shah Jahan Ahmad, Gulistan Ahmad, Ramzan Ahmad, Nasir, Said Mohammad, Aslam, Sanaullah, Ikram and Sajawal Ahmad were accused. Eight of them have been arrested. The main culprits Sajawal Ahmad Sehr and Rehmatullah are still at large. Rehmatullah is the one who continued making a video of the incident. Police claimed that four of the culprits had confessed to the crime. These ten armed men seized and dragged her. Without knowing her crime, these men first tore her shirt and then removed her clothes forcibly. She cried for help, but no one came to her rescue. She ran for mercy to a nearby home and tried to take shelter. The culprits entered that house and dragged her from her legs.

Sharifa was paraded in the streets for over two hours and then took her to a hujra. Around the time of Friday prayers, they took Sharifa to a forest and left her there. From there, she ran naked to her uncle’s house.

When Sharifa and her mother Khursheed Bibi approached police for legal action against the culprits, police initially refused to help them. Thanks to the local socio-political activist Saifullah, who highlighted the issue and a consequent pressure from media, the police registered an FIR. It was because of Saifullah’s help that Sharifa’s family moved to the Peshawar High Court to seek justice. The petition also sought progress in the investigation of the case.

Sharifa’s village is a part of the NA-25 constituency of Dera Ismail Khan. Dawar Khan Kundi of PTI is the elected member national assembly, while Ali Amin Gandapur is the provincial member assembly of the constituency. But the situation of the area is terrible as the village is without electricity, roads, clean drinking water and schools among other necessities.

Sharifa has been in trauma since the incident. She was brought to Islamabad by a mental health professional Dr Mouna Gauhar for treatment. According to Dr Mauna, people exposed to such torture are scarred for life. She added that Sharifa appeared very thin, weak and disconnected from herself giving brief statements. Her mother reported that she does not eat or sleep well and often wakes up screaming at midnight since the incident. She spends hours sitting still, staring into the air.

Post-Traumatic Stress and Depression (PTSD) is a debilitation psychological condition which a person may acquire after being exposed to a stressful event directly or indirectly and experiences an extreme threat to self or personal safety. The adverse events get encoded in neural networks and are often re-experienced in the form of intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, intense prolong distress, and psychological reactivity to trauma-related stimuli.

Sharifa, who belongs to the poor socio-economic background, seems to suffer from at least two psychological conditions: PTSD and depression. Although the doctor offered her free treatment, it was not feasible for Sharifa to come all the way from her remote village.

The Peshawar High Court was requested to direct the respondent police officials to ensure submission of a weekly progress report in the court regarding the investigation so that the PHC can satisfy itself that justice is provided to the petitioner.

Doesn’t Article 17 of the constitution of Pakistan guarantee all fundamental rights to Sharifa Bibi and her low-income family?

The petitioner also requested the court to direct the police concerned to include Rehmatullah in the FIR for making a video of her when she was being paraded naked. It asked the court to give directions to the police to recover the footage from the accused so that it isn’t publicised and misused.

The petitioner claimed that the culprits were pressuring her family to withdraw the FIR. She was threatened by the culprits that her video would be made public if the FIR was not withdrawn.

The petition noted that despite requests the police did not provide security to her and her family till date. She noted that the politicians visited her home to show sympathy for her with the aim of making political gains and did nothing for her except for Dawar Khan Kundi.

Doesn’t the article 17 of the constitution of Pakistan guarantee all fundamental rights to Sharifa Bibi and her low-income family?

The writer is Islamabad-based author, a columnist and political analyst. He can be reached at

 Published in Daily Times, February  27th   2018.