A man accused of stabbing a woman 23 times for rejecting his advances had his acquittal overturned by the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday, finally bringing an end to a 3-year long legal saga that had turned into a referendum on how Pakistan’s legal system handles claims of violence against women.
In 2016, Khadija Siddiqi was brutally attacked by a former classmate, Shah Hussain, while picking up her 6-year-old sister from school in Lahore. She miraculously survived the stabbing, and Hussain was initially sentenced to seven years in prison. But in June, a high court overturned the ruling and acquitted Hussain — reportedly based on a letter Siddiqi wrote when she was 17 that the court said showed she had romantic interest in him. In the wake of the trial, Siddiqi said that the judge had suggested she must have done something to provoke the stabbing, and told her she would need to prove the accused’s motive.
Hussain’s acquittal sparked outrage in Pakistan as many accused the court of bias — especially since Hussain belongs to a prominent Pakistani family. On Wednesday, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa reinstated Hussain’s conviction in a move that Siddiqi, a 24-year-old law student, hailed as “a victory for all women.”
“I think this case will serve a stepping stone for the future cases of women in Pakistan,” she told reporters. “The court’s decision proves today that if you raise your voice then the truth would win. If you misuse your authority and power, it will eventually come in front of you.”
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