Trigger Warning: Sexual assault and abuse
Stories of meeting a soulmate online and starting a new life with them have been making rounds in the country. But, for 30-year-old Australian woman, Lara Hall, the dream of a fairy tale soon became her worst nightmare.
'I was raped, starved and kept as a prisoner': How an Australian woman, 30, travelled to Pakistan to meet the man of her dreams… only for him to lock her up, force Islam upon her and abuse her daily https://t.co/utLqdgiiVN
— meena gabeena (@gabeeno) January 25, 2019
In 2013, struck by ill-fate, Lara met a Pakistani woman called Rihana on a train in Australia.
Coming from a broken family, Lara started getting close to Rihana’s family as they adored her and often brought her gifts.
One night, on a Skype call with Rhianna’s family in Pakistan, Lara made her first contact with Sajjad, who was a relative.
Not too long after, the two connected on Facebook and talked intermittently over the next few years.
Sajjad claimed to be a lawyer and was eager to make her happy. For Lara, who had completed a law degree at the University of Notre Dame and was working in a prestigious position, this appeared to be a match made in heaven.
Lara had battled obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and her childhood troubles still haunted her.
The vulnerable Lara, fell prey to the fake promises of a happy life with him.
He would tell her, “I will fill all your blank spaces”. It was one of his favorite sayings, Lara told the Dailymail.
Last year, Sajjad invited Lara to his brother’s wedding in Pakistan. She saw it as a chance to see if their online romance could turn into real-life love.
On April 23rd last year she flew 18 hours to Lahore from Sydney, only to discover he was a con man.
Sajjad had lied to her about owning a Spanish villa but she was spellbound and ignored everything else.
But, things soon started to get ugly when he raped and physically abused her multiple times.
Lara said she came to Pakistan all by herself and she had become a house-prisoner who suffered from the torture.
Lara planned her own escape by reaching out to Dr. Kaiser Rafiq, chief executive of the elite AFOHS club, a prestigious members-only club for armed forces officers, diplomats and prominent business personalities via Facebook.
Dr. Rafiq escorted her to the local police station where she received further assistance.
Lara managed to fly back to Sydney with the help of the British Pakistani-Christian Association after failing to receive any assistance from the Australian High Commission.
The internet is still not a safe place after all, and trusting a stranger with your life is risky. This horrifying experience, when shared with Pakistanis, left everyone angry and disturbed.
Some people wondered why the man’s face was censored in all the pictures.
Why have they censored his damn face? Should be plastered all over media.
— Daanika Kamal (@daanistan) January 25, 2019
It does seem rather unfair that the woman’s face is everywhere, whereas her assailant’s face is hidden from the world. His face truly should be shown to everyone to move forward the process of justice being served.
People also started talking about how women shouldn’t trust people online, but more importantly, how men shouldn’t lie, abuse and rape, to begin with.
Feel sorry for her. Girls should never trust the person they meet online. They are never what they appear to be.
— Asma (@AsmaZhk) January 25, 2019
And boys / men should stop lying and raping and abusing and isolating women.
— meena gabeena (@gabeeno) January 25, 2019
Overall, people found the entire incident horrifying…
@Gabeeno the stigma exists. Society is primitive. Women are opressed dealt with as goats. But the real culprits are the agents apposing change and striving to keep it primitive. Why on Earth in 70 years are we still uncivilized
— PTM_Islamabad (@IslamabadPtm) January 25, 2019
…and they were surprised at the lack of action.
This is such a horrific story. And the Australian Consulate’s role in her ordeal is appalling. I find it strange that the victim’s twin sister and other family in Australia didn’t notice her disappearance, and didn’t do anything from their end to help the victim.
— Desi Ninja (@deehaw_beniaz) January 26, 2019
Strange the way her embassy behaved
— dr zahid pervez (@zahidpervez) January 25, 2019
Truly, what an awful ordeal to go through. Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.
Cover image via Dailymail