A female Pakistani cricketer who committed suicide by drinking acid was under extreme stress after an administrator sued her for pursuing a sexual harassment case against him, her cousin said.
Halima Rafique, a 17-year-old all-rounder from Multan died in her home on Sunday in a case that has shocked both fans and women’s rights activists, who have accused cricket authorities of covering up her damaging claims.
Rafique along with four other domestic cricketers — Seema Javed, Hina Ghafoor, Kiran Irshad and Saba Ghafoor — had jointly levelled the charges against Multan Cricket Club chairman Maulvi Sultan Alam and selector Mohammad Javed in a television show in June last year.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) formed a two-member inquiry committee which in October cleared the officials of any wrongdoing and banned all five women from playing for six months.
Three of the women changed their statements before the committee, while Ghafoor and Rafique declined to appear, amid speculation that the women had been pressured to back down.
Last week, Alam filed a defamation case against the television channel officials as well as the cricketers seeking damages of 20 million rupees ($20,000).
Halima’s family said the lawsuit had pushed her over the edge. “It’s tragic,” Rashid Rafique, brother-in-law of Halima said.”She was very worried and we feel that the tension took her life.”
Punjab law minister Rana Mashood, also a minister for sports, has ordered an inquiry. Bina Shah, a prominent feminist, said that the women were likely threatened and pressured into backing down.
“The thought of having to pay twenty million rupees to her abuser probably was too much for Haleema to bear,” she wrote on her blog.