A terrified young woman is ordered to stick out her tongue and lick the soles of a white Gucci sneaker. One of her eyebrows has been shaved off. She apologises to her captors and is forced to bow down before them.
The viral video, which was posted to humiliate and blackmail the victim, was taken during her abduction and assault in a mansion in Pakistan’s industrial hub of Faisalabad. In another video two women brutally chop off her hair as she cries out for mercy.
The prime suspect accused of the attack is Sheikh Danish, a wealthy business tycoon and director of a textile company who told a local newspaper they exported Rs. 10 billion or $96 million worth of goods in 2016. Danish, who has even appeared in political posters with Pakistan’s leading politicians in the past, has been detained for sexually assaulting, kidnapping and torturing dental student Khadijah Ghafoor, his daughter’s close friend.
“All the perpetrators involved believed themselves to be untouchable, especially the main accused,” police officer Mohammad Omer Mirza told VICE World News. “We have taken timely response and are conducting forensic analysis of the videos.” Police say they are tracking the whereabouts of Danish’s daughter Ana Ali who remains at large and has been placed on the country’s exit control list.
According to the police report, Danish, Ana Ali, his alleged wife Maham and four bodyguards allegedly broke into Ghafoor’s home on Aug. 9 and kidnapped her after she had recently ended ties with the family. Prior to her kidnapping, Danish and Ana Ali had repeatedly pressured the survivor to accept Danish’s proposal of marriage, to the point of giving her death threats, according to Ghafoor’s police complaint.
Ghafoor’s kidnap and assault was brazenly captured on video by her captors. Danish then allegedly continued to sexually assault and film Ghafoor. Afterwards the perpetrators attempted to extort Ghafoor by threatening to upload the videos if she refused to pay them.
Police arrested Danish, his alleged wife and his bodyguards on Aug. 17 and seized an assortment of weapons and illegal liquor from his residence. Danish was expected to be presented to court on Thursday for remand. He has denied the charges against him, claiming that he was being blackmailed by Ghafoor.
The case has shocked the country’s business community, which held Danish in high esteem for his thriving yarn, cotton and textile businesses. Despite the country’s declining textile exports in recent years, Danish claimed that one of his companies, Best Exports, was flourishing with increased production capacities and 70 percent of its exports channelled to South African and European markets.
Danish is believed to be a close ally of controversial ruling party minister Rana Sanaullah, who was arrested by the country’s anti-narcotics force for the alleged possession of 15 kg of heroin in 2019, a charge that he denies. VICE World News did not receive a response from Rana Sanaullah when asked to comment on his relationship with Danish.
According to feminist and Aurat March Islamabad organizer Huda Bhurgri, the case speaks volumes about the remorseless violence with which the country’s powerful men subject women who refuse to give in to their demands.
“This case is a prime example of patriarchal anxiety that powerful and privileged men in our society experience when women defy them or when a woman does not give them what they want,” Bhurgri told VICE World News.
However, Bhurgri also believes that the involvement of the women in the case is a reflection of patriarchal appeasement.
“When we talk about patriarchy and misogyny, it's not limited to men only – women who are brought up in patriarchal societies exhibit patriarchy themselves,” said Bhurgri. “His daughter's act suggests that women can go to any extent to appease their patriarchal gods. They can use violence against other women to appease the men in their families.”
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