A US blogger, who has lived in Pakistan for more than 10 years has accused a former interior minister of raping her and a former prime minister and health minister of harassing her. Cynthia D. Ritchie is known for her pro-army stance.
In a Facebook live video on Friday, Ritchie named former interior minister Rahman Malik, currently a member of the Senate or upper house of Parliament, of raping her. She also accused former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin of harassing her. All of them belong to the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
In her latest accusation, Ritchie said her “ordeal” took place at Rehman Malik’s official residence in the ministers’ enclave in Islamabad in 2011 around the time “when the Osama Bin Laden incident happened”.
“I thought it was a meeting about my visa but I was given flowers [and] a drugged drink,” she claimed, adding she had “kept quiet” about the incident because “who in the [ruling government] would help me against the [accused minister]?”
Cynthia said she also informed the US embassy in 2011 about the incident, adding that “owing to fluid and complex Pak-US relations, the response was less than adequate”.
“Absolutely! As I said before, I’m ready for a court. All the documents, voice notes, filthy images and rape threats from PPP, the data scientists who’ve assisted in putting together this nexus of harassment. I hope PPP is ready for my suit,” Ritchie said in a tweet.
“What happened to me is a pattern of sexual abuse or power projection. Abuse of power is common among the elites of Pakistan — and this is across the board among both genders,” she tweeted.
In her tweet, she calls for an end to the “culture of rape” in Pakistan. “The rape culture must stop. Women must work together to educate children re: what’s not ok & defend themselves against predators,” she tweeted.
Denying the charges, the Pak politicians have filed a complaint with the country’s law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter further.
“Why aren’t #AuratMarch supporters at least inquiring as to why another woman claims she’s been raped by government officials? Why are you trying to suppress my voice?” asked Ritchie in her tweet, tagging one of the vocal advocates of women rights in Pakistan, Beena Sarwar. “Why do your certain twitter accounts block me if they don’t wish for an open dialogue?” Ritchie asked.
“Her remarks being false, untrue, defaming and slanderous as they are, have caused immense pain and agony to millions across Pakistan, who revere and hold Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in high esteem,” the PPP petition said.
“Your office is requested to take immediate action and initiate proceedings against this woman [Ritchie] as prescribed by the law and under your mandate,” the PPP plea lodged with the ADSJ added.
Ritchie had also accused late prime minister Benazir Bhutto of having ordered the rape of those women she suspected were having relations with her husband, Asif Ali Zardari.
So far the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken no action against Ritchie despite a number of complaints. According to reports, the Government hesitates to act upon the complaints against her because she is closely associated with the army.