Stabbed 23 times in broad daylight last year, Khadija Siddiqi is now inspiring young girls to speak up

If we can make our youth, especially young girls, stand up for their rights, and not succumb to male brutality at any cost, her fight will be worth it

It’s been a year since Khadija Siddiqi, a young law student unaware of the diabolic enmity from an unknown rival, was stabbed 23 times in broad daylight. In case if you’ve forgotten what happened on May 3rd, 2016 on Davis Road, The Mall, here’s a recap on the unpleasant and prolonged ordeal of Khadija Siddiqi...

What exactly happened a year ago on May 3, 2016?

I had gone to pick my younger sister, from her school, which is also my former school. As I made my sister board the car and was about to make my way in, a ruthless creature clad in a helmet pounced on me. In the blink of an eye, I was pushed on the backseat with enormous force by uninterrupted gashes. Not twice or thrice but 23 times brutally leaving no stone unturned whilst attacking. He kept lacerating me till I was immersed in blood, just like you see puddles of water after rain I was in a puddle of blood. I lay lifeless in the middle of Davis Road being declared dead by the bevy of men surrounding me. It has been a year now but the dreadful scene still plays in my mind and sends shivers down my spine.

Khadija Siddiqi a year ago 

Were you expecting anything like this to happen?

I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be stabbed, that too 23 times, in broad daylight.

Who else was with you?

My younger sister, aged 6, witnessed the entire incident, she helplessly shouted in despair but failed to save me and in the attempt to do so she got stabbed too on her back. It was sheer inhumanity.

You’ve talked about yourself, but what about your younger sister?

My younger sister was terrorized post the horrifying incident. For several days she would stammer and speak, unable to express how she felt.  She is still in constant fear and is afraid of going alone anywhere.

What laws apply to your case?

Since this was a clear cut attempt to murder it comes under Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Any progress so far?

Initially, the pre-arrest bails were cancelled in the Session Court and the High Court because the criminal could not prove his innocence. I felt as if I had been successful in getting justice. Little did I know that justice in Pakistan was not a piece of cake. This was just the beginning of the fight as the criminal got his post arrest bail from the Session Court and was released from jail in less than 2 months.  We filed for cancellation of his post arrest bail, which was a perverse decision. Subsequently, the case was delayed for another 4 months and the judge who initially cancelled the pre-arrest bail rejected our plea for wrongful grant of bail. The judiciary very obviously supports a criminal since he’s a lawyer’s son.

Last year, law against domestic violence was implemented. Is it helping you in your case?

The Women’s Protection Act has been made but I doubt it has any implementation because it didn’t protect me at all. I was denied justice. I was denied protection by the State.

You are so young but this incident has transformed you into a mighty brave heart. How do you see your future?

I was an extremely timid girl prior to the ‘3rd May’ incident. However, this incident has harnessed my abilities to come forth and address the issue bravely. I can speak publicly and I know how to fight for my infringed rights. I firmly believe that life doesn’t end with the brutality of a male chauvinist mindset, but life begins when a woman is strong, strong enough to fight for her rights. It’s not the scars that hurt but the fact that my attacker living in the same city as a free citizen hiding under his helmet. Lack of punishment for such criminals would mean opening avenues to commit crimes and escape criminal liability by using their powers. Yet, I am hopeful about my future.

How far do you think you’ll go in this race?

I believe if I can make our youth, especially young girls stand up for their rights, and not succumb to male brutality at any cost; my fight will be worth it.

Your message to the women of our nation?

I want to be the voice for all Pakistani girls so in the future someone can look up to me and say, “Because of you I didn’t give up.” Pakistani women are extremely strong, multi-talented and are doing so well in different fields and breaking stereotypes. There is a flipside to the role of women portrayed in drama serials.

Above all, instead of telling your friends everything, take your parents into confidence. Make them your best friends because, trust me, in the end it’s only them who will stand by you. The legendary humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi said, “Stand up for what is right, even if you’re standing alone!”

My message to the women of our nation is:

Break the shackles and make your voice heard! Zanjeer torr! Machao shor! Because only this can help us smash the patriarchy!

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs