Prevailing Culture of Sexual assault in Pakistan

By: Qazi Shahzaib Ud Din Hamza

My readers may get furious with the wording of the topic but if you could ever manage to meet a rape victim, talk to them and feel the pain of the words from the trembling lips, you would not be annoyed than. In just past few days, we have listened to some heart breaking news stories from different corners of the country. At first it was reported that five-year-old girl is raped, stoned to death. The torched body of the girl was recovered from Karachi’s Old Sabzi Mandi area, two days after she was reported to have gone missing.

Than a covered up story on electronic media was presented that a transgender activist Gul Panra has been shot dead in Peshawar. But the topic get itself in trending when the most ugliest and ruthless incident happened with mother of 2, who was Gang raped in front of her children by two ‘robbers’ at gunpoint in Gujjarpura area on last Wednesday while she was waiting for help on the motorway after her car developed a fault. The horrendous motorway incident shocked everyone and it’s hard to fathom the pain that the victim had to go through during such a brutal act of barbarism.

I dig out in the story and contacted a friend who is a regional crime reporter of a leading newspaper. He stated that the woman, a resident of Gujranwala, was on her way back to the city from Lahore’s Ring Road (at the motorway) at 01:30AM on Tuesday night, when her car ran out of petrol at Gujjarpura around an hour later. The woman waited for her husband and even phoned a relative. She called the Motorway Police’s emergency helpline 130 for assistance. However, she was told by the operator that she could not be provided help as the emergency beat had not been assigned to anyone. Instead of taking the blame, the Capital City Police Officer of Lahore, Umar Sheikh, has blamed and accused the victim for not taking precautionary measures. This numb mindset has to be uprooted from the very basic as it is the main reason for which these incidents are not reported in the press and to the law enforcement agencies.

Let me explain my text with some facts and research reports. Starting with the federal capital, as many as 21 cases of kidnap, including 16 cases of rape of female children and one case of a molested male child have been registered in the first twenty days of 2020, a figure that raises many eyebrows. On 15th of March, SSP of Lahore explained a report called “Pakistan Crime & Safety report 2020” which states that in the first 60 days of 2020, as many as 73 incidents of rape have been reported, including 5 gang-rape cases. The victims also include minors. On May 12, 2020, Gulf news through a series of research reported that 200% increase in crimes against women in Pakistan is seen in January-March. This didn’t just get started this year but when we look at the stats of 2019,

it says that a massive increase in crime rate was witnessed in 2019 as 3,881 cases of rape, 1,359 cases of child sexual abuse, 1,126 cases of child abuse, 1,758 cases of violence against women, 12,600 cases of kidnapping of women and 197 cases of honor killing were registered in Punjab, putting the authorities to shame. On 5th of June this year police arrested government doctor and taken into custody for allegedly raping a woman at a dispensary located inside the Punjab Governor House. The most shocking certitude was that the ratio of child abuse with boys was greater in number in every data collected. According to data available with this scribe, in Lahore, the authorities registered 88 cases of child sexual abuse with boys and 17 with girls, whereas, in the preceding year, there were 41 cases of child abuse with boys and 22 with girls. Moreover, 106 cases of child sexual abuse with boys and 97 with girls were registered in 2019. The data was not too much better to say because as per the statistics of NGOs working on women’s rights, reports of 2,937 cases of rape were filed in 2018.

These are the cases which are reported and registered and a great number of the cases neither been registered nor even reported to the police due to the pressure of the criminals or society. The tactics to help the criminals also includes the delay of medical checkup of sexually abused women, hence no evidence is found and the accused does not get punished. We used to troll India in the past for being the hub of sexual assault but now it’s time for us. The situation regarding the law and order is alarming especially regarding the crimes against children and women. Solid counter steps and revolutionary legislation is needed in this regard otherwise this prevailing culture would bring a complete disaster for our society.