Punjab’s Child Bride Wrongfully Convicted, Jailed For 19 Years Now Demanding Compensation
Rani BIibi, who was arrested by police at a mere age of 13 and then wrongfully convicted for murdering her husband, was released after 19 years. She is now fighting for compensation for herself and thousands of other victims of false convictions in Pakistan.
International news outlet Reuters reported that Rani Bibi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001. She spent next 19 years in a prison for a crime she did not commit. Her parents and brother were also arrested and jailed as they all were the last people to be seen with her husband when the couple was visiting her family’s home.
Rani told the international news agency that she did ‘hard labour’ in the prison. The report said that she cooked for hundreds of inmates and swept endless floors in the scorching heat.
After facing all the hardships, it was only in 2014 that her appeal was taken up after a lawyer, who headed a local charity. He met Rani on a routine prison visit and fought for her release. In 2017, Lahore High Court (LHC) released her over lack of evidence and apologised, saying “You were left to anguish in the jail solely due to the irresponsible attitude of the jail authorities.” The judge in his order at the time said that court felt helpless in compensating Rani.
Pakistan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — a treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 that guarantees the right to compensation for victims of wrongful convictions. But the country has not yet incorporated the terms into local laws. Rani and her lawyers are now determined to change that.
While Rani has not asked for any specific amount, she said: “I hope the compensation will help me buying a new bed, blankets, a washing machine, an iron and a stove.”
Rani further said that she did not know that she could claim something and how much it would be. “But I hope they [government] can just give me enough so I can buy things for my home. I have nothing right now.”