Fact-Check: Women Prisoners’ Mistreatment

Fact-Check: Women Prisoners’ Mistreatment
MYTH: In recent developments, Imran Khan, the embattled leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has raised concerns about the alleged sexual assault of women workers from his party who are currently in jail. However, the government has responded by denying these allegations and initiating an investigation into the matter.

FACT: The story starts on Saturday, May 28, when Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah made a surprise appearance on television, stating that spy agencies had intercepted telephone calls suggesting that the PTI planned to accuse their own party of raping women workers.

The following day, Imran Khan addressed the issue via video link, accusing Rana Sanaullah of holding the press conference out of fear that reports of rape would surface. He alleged that this was an attempt to divert attention and create controversy.

Even before Rana Sanaullah’s press conference and Imran Khan’s response, this reporter had reported on May 22 that Imran Khan would heap such allegations in the coming days.

Imran Khan called for the Supreme Court to take immediate action, demanding the release of the women involved.

The midnight conference of Rana and Imran Khan’s forceful response, put the whole government machinery – the caretaker government of Punjab, the police and the jail authorities – put in defensive mode.

The next day, caretaker chief minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi dismissed the allegations and established a two-member committee of women officers – Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider and SSP Punjab Police Anoosh Masood – to look into the matter.

On Monday, the committee visited Lahore and met with the women prisoners, including Khadija Shah.


SSP Anoosh Masood said that she had interacted with all the women prisoners and found the conditions inside the jail to be satisfactory. She reassured the public that the jail provided various facilities, including access to medical specialists, psychologists, and gynaecologists, who were available to address any complaints or concerns.

Anoosh Masood further emphasized that female political prisoners are under the protection of the state after their arrest. If any misconduct or inappropriate behaviour occurs, the prisoners can file complaints with the jail superintendent.


In cases where the superintendent is involved, they have the option to report to the IG Prisons or the Home Minister. But this is what the government usually says in its defence.

In response to the allegations of mistreatment of arrested women workers, the government has reiterated its commitment to upholding the law and protecting prisoners' rights.

Sardar Mushtaq Badani, a lawyer, emphasized the importance of separate wards for women prisoners and the presence of women officials for supervision and maintenance, citing the law and human rights as guarantees.

Data reveals the following situation according to the Punjab government's records: out of the 300 women involved in the May 9 sabotage across Punjab, 46 have been arrested. Of those 46, 29 have been released on bail, while the remaining 17 women are in jail for the identification parade.

The law prohibits meeting with relatives before the identification process. It is essential to ensure that all accused individuals are treated equally under Pakistan laws, which strictly forbid abuse and concessions. The legal procedures for identification parades are well-defined, and adherence to these processes is crucial for a successful prosecution.

Claims made by a particular political party regarding the number of women involved may be an exaggeration for political gain.

IGP's Statements and Denials

IGP Dr Usman Anwar emphasized that the arrest of any individual, regardless of gender, is in accordance with the law. He addressed the issue of fake social media posts related to women and highlighted the need to verify information before drawing conclusions. When prominent women prisoners, including former MNA Aliya Hamza, Sanam Javed, Tayyaba Raja and Khadija Shah, appeared before the Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore on June 3, they publicly denied any mistreatment in jail. Additionally, a delegation from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) met with the prisoners and confirmed that allegations of torture or mistreatment were unfounded.

Continuing concerns and investigations

Despite these assertions, social media continues to be filled with posts depicting assaults on women prisoners. Taking note of these posts, the IGP held a press conference on June 4, reiterating that the arrests were made in accordance with the law. He addressed the dissemination of false videos and pictures, clarifying that they were not related to women police officers who had been subjected to torture.

Caretaker information minister Amir Mir provided an update on the situation. Out of the 300 women involved in the May 9 sabotage across Punjab, 46 have been arrested. Of those, 29 have been released on bail, while 17 women remain in jail for the identification parade.

The law prohibits meeting with relatives before the identification process, as Pakistani laws apply equally to all arrested individuals. It is crucial to emphasize that no one should be subjected to abuse or receive any undue concessions.

The legal procedure for identification parades is clearly defined, and compliance with these requirements, including the concealment of the accused's face, is vital for a successful prosecution.

Claims made by a certain political party regarding the number of women involved may be exaggerated for political gain.

While the Punjab government maintains that it continues to provide better facilities to women prisoners, it is important to acknowledge that prisoners have the right to file complaints if there are any violations of these rules.

It ensures that relevant forums are available to address such issues and promote transparency and accountability.

Although women's prisons in Pakistan generally maintain better conditions with fewer complaints, it is essential to remain vigilant about the potential mistreatment of recently arrested female political activists. However, it is crucial to note that, under normal circumstances, Pakistani prisons uphold higher standards.

As the investigation progresses, it is of utmost importance to ensure the fair treatment of all prisoners and hold accountable those responsible for any misconduct or abuse that may have occurred. Transparency and accountability should be prioritized throughout the process.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.