"Save me, I
am not dead"
could not get any grislier. A 19-year-old housewife being
raped by two criminals and then, having her head almost severed
and other parts of her body mercilessly stabbed after which
having acid poured all over her. And yet by some miracle she
survived to reveal the names of her assailants.
In a dirty,
dank room of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) which is
called Ward 35, 19-year-old Shima (not her real name) lies
motionless in a narrow bed, the sheets of which have not been
changed for days. She is being given saline intravenously
and pain killers and sedatives keep her asleep most of the
time. Paralysed from neck downwards Shima cannot feel anything,
not even when a small cockroach brushes against her feet.
Her breathing is painfully laboured. Her head is shaven to
make it easier for the nurses to change the dressing of her
horrible wound. The back of her neck which is now covered
with a collar, has a gaping hole that exposes her spinal cord.
can put your hand in, its so big," says her older sister
Sharmin (not her real name). "They (the assailants) cut
even the bone."
while later Shima's father comes to visit his youngest daughter.
He is still numb with grief and is in no condition to talk
about Shima's ordeal. Sharmin, one of Shima's three sisters,
seems stronger and manages to say a few words.
she went missing we went looking for her at the garment factory
and her friends' houses. It was only on the fourth day that
we were informed that she was lying here at the DMCH."
to a carpenter, Shima worked at a garment factory in Savar.
Often while going home, Shima would have to endure lewd comments
from a local mastaan named Liton and his friends. On August
29, the factory was closed so Shima and one of her friends
decided to go to the zoo. At around 12 pm, they were returning
home and passed by a hall in Jahangirnagar University. Liton
and four of his friends stopped the girls on the way. After
scaring off her friend they dragged Shima to a nearby bush
and raped her. While she was being assaulted, Shima screamed
and told the rapists that she knew who they were, which only
spurred more brutality. With sharp knives they slashed at
her, almost severing her neck from her spine and pouring acid
over her, after which they shoved her into a hole in the ground
. The assailants left the scene assuming she was dead. But
by some quirk of fate, Shima remained alive even after three
days when a gardener heard her crying out: "Save me,
I am not dead." Shima, with the help of the Savar police,
was rushed to DMCH, with grievous injuries.
husband knew that Liton had been harassing his wife and had
gone to him begging him to leave his wife alone. But his pleas
were of no use for a seasoned criminal like Liton. Liton,
a local mastaan who was involved in extortion activities and
had a murder case against him, conducted his criminal activities
freely with no moves from the police to arrest him.
thana police filed a case under the Prevention of Women and
Children Repression Act against Liton and some of his friends.
Since then Ain O Shalish Kendra is handling the case and has
helped the family to pay for some of the medical expenses.
The family, however is finding it hard to meet the high cost
of treatment;all the medicine and other supplies have to be
bought from outside.
to Prothom Alo's report, Liton, around 18 or 20, had been
sent to the Middle East in 2000 when his family realised that
he had become addicted to drugs. In 2002, Liton came back
and began his criminal activities. Liton's family is not sure
which political party he is associated with. Liton's father
has told Prothom Alo, "I could never imagine I would
have such a son. I want him to get an appropriate punishment.
If he comes back I will myself hand him over to the police."
Meanwhile Liton and his associates remain absconding.
Alo investigation included interviews with family members
of Monir, who was allegedly killed by Liton and his associates.
According to Monir's wife, even after a murder case had been
filed against Liton he remained scot-free and continued to
threaten Monir's family.
mumbles something to her sister. The collar around her neck
to protect her wound, is covering her lips and she wants it
to be pulled down. Shima can only feel her neck and head.
The doctor treating her at DMCH says that her spinal cord
has been almost completely severed by the injury. There are
chances that she may develop meningitis in which case it will
not be possible to save her. "Please pray for her,"
says Sharmin, finally letting the tears well up in her eyes.
"The doctor has said there is little chance of her surviving.
We haven't told our mother yet because she would not be able
to take it." But even if she does make it, the doctor
has said that she will probably remain disabled for the rest
of her life. This is what this 19-year-old, who was once a
pretty, carefree young woman and who survived the most terrifying
ordeal, can look forward to. If she lives that is.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004