Name: Ruqaya Hyder
From: Greenbelt, MD
Rape. Abuse. Sexual Assault.
Do you hear talk shows discussing these topics? Does the media even
try to highlight these problems? Are these topics even considered an
urgent problem? Maybe in some places they do but not where I come
Since I was a little girl, I was told to stay inside the house. All outings
and trips would be subject to cancellation when a girl wanted to come
along. The fear was real, as the rapes and abuses were mostly done on
teenage boys and girls. Yes, even boys aged 6 to 19 are sexually
abused in the Indo-Pak region.
According to some sources, in India and Pakistan, on October 24th 2003, the
calculated rape rate was 26%, and in the past 12 years it has risen
so rapidly that it has reached 78%. Still, this increase remains
At the age of 15, my friend, Maira, decided to go to Mac Donald’s at
10: 15 pm in the F-7 Sector of Islamabad, Pakistan. It was past
curfew but she demanded it. As being one of her close friends, I
decided to join her.
Until now we were clueless about the evils in the world and most
importantly we were innocent. As we were walking out, a group of men
in black leather jackets walked in and suddenly grabbed my friend by
the arm. I still remember the words “Found
a pretty silent one.”
His words were complete voodoo. She couldn’t say a word. I ran
behind a close-by car before they could lay hands on me. All that I
saw after that were those men walking away quietly into the darkness.
My ears stopped listening. My legs gave up. My innocence vanished
into thin air.
Two years later, after several illnesses attacked Maira, she finally died
at the age of 17. Before her death, the doctors had diagnosed her
with AIDS. Before that no one thought that she might have HIV and
didn’t bother to diagnose her. I knew that I couldn’t help her
when she was raped but I wished I could do something to help her
declining health and save her from death. This really hit me hard on
the ground and imprinted itself in my brain like cancer. This
triggered my passion into the field of medicine and since then I have
done intense research and volunteer work to help those like Maira.
This was a problem that no one addressed and I was compelled to find
In 2012, a census was done and it was reported that along with high rape
rates, the HIV and AIDS rates were also increasing. Four out of ten
teenagers will be diagnosed as HIV positive. That is, if
they are diagnosed.
Hospitals such as PIMs, Aga Khan, and Army have the most patients coming in
with HIV+. My volunteer work at the ‘Association of People with
HIV’ in Islamabad, Pakistan made me realize that the Government is
so blind to the fact that this is real and is happening. No leader
wants to address it. It was turning into a hidden shame.
As elected Prefect and Vice President during my high school years, my
leadership and communication skills have enhanced, and while
volunteering at the Association of people living with HIV helped
develop my interpersonal relationships at a broader level. As head of
the Model Counter Terrorism Committee, I am working alongside
opinionated students, channeling our efforts towards accomplishing
common goals, as debating bills and legal actions are just as
important as medical care.
I cannot forget the painful
screams that came out of her mouth: after Maira’s death, my mind
was made up: I would do everything possible to either heal the
injured or fight for their rights. That moment of realization, etched
in my conscience, was a remarkably rewarding moment that gave me
purpose and an aim to reach for excellence. Practicing Medicine will
allow me to relive that moment every day.