Editorial | Nimrita’s Tormentors Must Be Brought To Book
The case of Nimrita Kumari, final year Hindu student of Bibi Aseefa Dental College, Larkana, has taken yet another tragic turn. Autopsy reports show that she was raped before being murdered. The issues that arise from her heartbreaking death are such that they should shake Pakistani society and policymakers alike to the core. Yet we have grown all too familiar with these issues and our collective helplessness to address them.
Nevertheless, we shall try to list them out.
First, the total lack of safety for young women is yet again brought home to us in a most painful way. While daily life in Pakistan is increasingly perilous for many, it is exceptionally fraught with danger for someone from Nimrita Kumari’s age-group. The daily geography of a young woman is based on avoiding potential physical threats – including that of sexual violence – in ways that our conservative policymakers and opinion-makers entirely fail to recognise. In fact, they are often to be found ridiculing or outright attacking those who raise such concerns, or else glorifying those who make life miserable for young women in the name of ‘traditional values’ and other such chimeras.
Moreover, Hindu girls have particularly been on the receiving end of sexual violence. There have been instances of them being abducted, raped and then forcibly converted to Islam. The perpetrators reportedly enjoy support of local influential and are able to go scot-free.
The fact that people hailing from religious minority communities face their own set of dangers – which are often compounded by the same conservative policymakers and lobbies that we mentioned above.
Third, that in a murder case involving a young woman living at the confluence of a number of forms of marginalization in an “Islamic republic”, the first instinct of authorities was to rule out the possibility of violence against her. And so we saw a concerted effort by university authorities – such as the Vice-Chancellor of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (SMBBMU) – to convince us that this was a case of suicide. Were it not for the public insistence of her brother Dr. Vishal that her case be properly investigated, it seems that many in positions of power and authority were content to draw a veil of obfuscation over the heartrending end of a young life full of dreams for a better future.