Dua Mangi was kidnapped for ransom near a cafe in DHA in December 2019, while her friend Haris Fatah Soomro was shot at and wounded.
Her kidnapping brought a wave of protests in the city urging the police to look into the matter in which her sister Layla Mangi played an active role. After continued demonstrations, the police took action and Mangi was recovered a week later.
On March 18 2020, the police arrested two suspects, it wasn’t until 2021 that the ATC-II framed charges on five other suspects Muzaffar, Tariq, Zuhaib Qureshi, Waseem Raja, and Fayyaz Qureshi for allegedly abducting Dua and demanding a ransom for her release.
Following her abduction, the media partook in sensationalization of the event with the general public slut-shaming and victim-blaming her.
Mangi and Fatah exclusively spoke to Propergaanda about their fight for justice and moving forward.
After the event of your kidnapping, a lot of news channels participated in the sensationalization of the event. How do you think that affected things in your personal life?
“At first it didn’t even cross my mind that people would believe such things and find terrible things to say for such a terrifying incident. When I got to know, I just kept asking why would people want someone who has been through hell to go through this too. There were times where I really wished no one knew about the incident because some of the things that people said were really hurtful and it affected how I viewed myself and how I thought people viewed me for a very long time”.
“I think it did affect my relationship with people around me at that time, I didn’t feel good about myself so I just couldn’t connect with them anymore because I couldn’t connect with myself”.
What has your experience been like, working with the legal system? Did you face any hurdles, what were they and how did you overcome them?
“I believe that I speak from a place of privilege as the forces and the courts have actually been really cooperative and empathetic with me. They were quick to apprehend most of the criminals and start the court process. We still haven’t won the case though because there’s still one gang member missing.”
“It’s been a year and we also haven’t received the ransom amount back but court proceedings usually take a lot of time and I honestly feel grateful that such progress has been made in a year”.
While fighting your case, did you feel the current laws to protect women are sufficient?
“Our penal code thankfully has laws for kidnapping and attempt to murder so that hasn’t been an issue. What worries me is that the sentences might not be adequate for the crimes committed by the gang and they might find a way to get out of prison and harm others again.”
“Making sure that they are not able to do has been a bit of a struggle.”
Over time the narrative of your story itself changed in the media – varying from victim-blaming to support. The same was seen in the recent motorway incident. Did you see the same changes in people close to you?
“I’ve been blessed with the sweetest friends and well-wishers. people close to me have been super supportive from day one. my family does get a bit victim-blamey at times now”.
“I have to remind them that what they’re saying is wrong and hurtful and then they stop. it gets tiring but not to the extent that I can’t deal with it.”
What helped you cope once the situation settled down?
“I think just processing everything that happened and allowing myself to feel the way I do. I feel like when something traumatic happens to us, if we keep telling ourselves that we’re fine, we make healing more difficult. It’s okay to not feel okay and it is important to acknowledge that, you know?”
“I am still healing, and there are days where the trauma feels too immense and it gets really difficult but I tell myself that what I feel is valid and that it’s not permanent and it will get better. I also have a really nice support system, they’re super supportive and understanding.”
What is the latest development in the legal case?
“For now we’re still waiting for the last guy to get caught. Some of the gang members have been applying for bail but the courts have refused it so far. we’re fighting and we’re winning Alhamdullilah.”
Since the incident, due to the news and media reporting, your name has become well known in Pakistan. Is there anything special you’re working on?
“Not really. I think it’s best if I remain focused on Haris and my recovery for now but I am very eager to partake in something of this sort in the near future!”
How has the journey of your recovery been since the injury?
“My journey to recovery is still an ongoing one. My recovery is focused on adapting to a new lifestyle and habits. During the early days of the recovery, I couldn’t even sit on my own. I’ve now learned different techniques to be able to sit up, transfer myself from a bed to a chair and into a car as well. My left lung has healed but I still cannot move or feel my body below my injury level (below the chest). I work out however I can with what I’ve got, to maintain my upper body strength.”
How did you feel when people started pushing the victim-blaming narrative?
“It felt like someone who shouldn’t have a say in the matter talked like they knew everything about the situation. So it felt uncalled for, unfair, dismissive, and disrespectful.”
Have you pursued the crime legally? And what has been the greatest setback in the process?
“Yes I have pursued the case legally, and thankfully four of the culprits have been caught. However, the one they call their leader is still out there and he also happens to be the person who fired the gun on me. Catching this person is the most important thing that is yet to happen.”
“The greatest setback is that he continues to roam free while his victims are either dead or traumatized physically and mentally. His name is Agha Mansoor.”
How has your life changed after the incident and how have you coped with the trauma and the setbacks?
“Almost every aspect of my life has changed. It was extremely difficult to even accept what had happened to me. I was in denial for the first few months until I returned home and realized that I am still not fully recovered. That’s when fear, hopelessness set in along with a massive existential crisis.”
“Physically I’ve only recovered as much as my condition has allowed me to. I am still wheelchair-bound and there has not been much progress with the mind-body connection as in I am still as paralyzed as much as I was when I first got hurt. So I stopped focusing on my physical prowess and started directing my healing towards my emotions and my soul, basically things that were still in my control.”
“The healing process has been anything but easy. I may have lost function but to truly lose would mean I lost myself with my former abilities. So I had to come to terms with my circumstances and start redefining who ‘Haris’ is.”