Left for Dead: A Doctor’s Account of Rescuing a 6 Year-old Rape Victim*
By Dr Summaiya Syed Tariq
The writer is Senior Medico-legal Officer at the Police Surgeon Office, Karachi.
Five days ago, a six year-old girl was found in a drain near the Korangi Crossing in Karachi where she was left to die after being raped. Her throat was slit. Miraculously, she survived, was rescued and taken to the Civil Hospital. The doctor who initially examined the girl writes her account.
Her eyes were still as she lay covered in a flimsy white sheet on a gurney in the ambulance. The gurney was metallic and I couldn’t help but think how cold she must be.
I reached out towards her and touched her arm. I was startled at how deathly cold it was and wondered if she was still alive.
“No, no doctor sahb, see, she is breathing!” the ambulance driver told me. Immediately, all hell broke loose.
The cries of “She is alive!” echoed outside the hospital as doctors and paramedics rush toward the ambulance.
It was painful to even look at her. Her throat was slit open almost ear to ear.
My numb mind couldn’t register how she must have survived even a few minutes with the clotted blood in the gaping wound of her neck, let alone a few hours.
“You mean, she was lying in the kachra kundi for the last two hours?” the paramedics asked in disbelief.
“Give or take a few”, I replied.
She suddenly twitched and that’s when I realised I was still holding her hand. As I gently moved my hand up her arm to comfort her, I felt a raw patch on her skin. I gasped as I saw another deep wound on her wrist.
That’s when I realised she was not even wearing trousers. She couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. But in the many years of my medical career, I have seen rape victims even younger than her.
The surgeons arrived to examine her wounds. They had a close look at the wound on her neck and said it was a miracle she survived.
“She is so lucky!” a nurse exclaimed.
Lucky? If she had been lucky, she wouldn’t be here. She would be at home with her family.
Her hand remained clasped in mine as she was being taken to the operation theatre.
I brought my lips close to her ear. The raw, metallic smell of blood immediately hit my nostrils. I retched. I took a deep breath and stood there, imagining, only imagining, what she had gone through. I asked her what her name was and she only made a sound. I couldn’t make out what she was trying to say, so I asked again, but she just closed her eyes.
Does it hurt? She looked at me in exasperation, wondering why I had even asked such a stupidly obvious question. She pointed at her groin. I could see the pain in her eyes and felt it as my own.
In my career of more than 15 years in forensics, I have always taken pride in my ability to remain dispassionate. No matter how atrocious the case, I remain detached and do my job. I have seen the horrors of what people can do to other people and how some can endure the pain and survive. But what this girl had gone through didn’t seem real.
In the operation theatre, she was put under general anaesthesia. The surgeons operated on her neck wound, repairing it layer by layer.
Brutality is an inadequate word to describe what was done to her. She was used as a dishrag and then disposed of. Can the perpetrators even be called humans? They are roaming scot-free, and I quiver at the thought that they might target someone again.
After almost two hours, the surgeons were finished. The procedure to repair the severed tendons of her right hand would have to be done later. She was transferred to the ICU.
All I wanted to do that night when I went back home was hug my children and tell them how much I love them.
The next time I saw her was in the ICU. She opened her eyes and looked at me with half a smile. I marveled at her courage.
The little girl was then visited by psychiatrists. She was found to be under severe stress and needs continuous therapy for rehabilitation. She will be evaluated every day by psychiatrists and psychologists. She has gone through trauma that is beyond our comprehension.
Physically, she is healing, though her trauma and emotional wounds will take a long time.