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With an alarming surge in crime rates, rape is among the top crimes that is reported more often now. In the modern times we are living in; “Rape” is the fourth mass plebeian and prevailing crime against women.
Even after having the guts to speak up about the various sexual assaults women and girls go through, these victims still face biases based on prejudices and a volatile social system, which badly needs to change if the tide of violence against women is to turn.
Pakistan ranked 164 out of 167 countries in the 2019 Women, Peace and Security Index, just above Syria , Afghanistan, and Yemen, and worst among nine South Asian countries on mobile phone access, financial inclusion, and patriarchal norms for women.
So, what is rape?
It is an unlawful sexual activity carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will. Rape or sexual assault is a serious crime globally.
The punishment for rape in Pakistan is either the death penalty or imprisonment of between 10 and 25 years. For gang rape offences, the punishment is either death penalty or life imprisonment. However, DNA test and other scientific evidence are required in prosecuting rape cases in Pakistan.
A periodical report titled “Tracking Crimes against People A Numeric Tale of Human (In) Security” released by rights group Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) revealed a 200 per cent increase in cases of violence against women in Pakistan in the past three months.
Rape Cases in Pakistan
In the preceding years, a lot of rape incidents took place but unfortunately only a few came to highlight:
In 2002, on the orders of the village council, 30-year-old Mukhtaran Bibi was gang raped as a “honour rape” following reports that her 12-year-old brother had sexual relations with a woman from a higher caste.
In 2005, a woman reported to have been gang-raped by four police officers for refusing to give them a hostage to free her husband from prison.
In the same year, a 13 years old little girl, Kainat Soomro was kidnapped and gang raped for four continuous days.
In 2012, three members of the Border Police were remanded in prison for raping five women between the ages of 15 and 21.
In 2014, a 21-year-old woman was gang raped and murdered in Layyah district, Punjab province of Pakistan.
In the mid of the same year, three sons of Mian Farooq, a ruling Faisalabad parliamentary party, was charged with kidnapping and gang raping a teenage girl. The rapists were eventually acquitted by the court.
In 2017, In Multan, a village council ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as penalty for her brother’s actions.
At the end of the same year, two more rape cases appeared;
A 25-year-old woman, was raped during a robbery at her own house in Multan as well as a girl who married against the customs of her villages was gang raped by village council members.
In 2018, Zainab Ansari, a seven-year – old girl, was raped in Kasur and brutally murdered.
Rape cases in Pakistan 2020
An exponential growth had been seen in rape cases, starting from February to March, 2020.
In recent September, a resident of France, a mother of three children was gang raped and robbed in front of her children in Lahore. This motorway rape case led to the uproar throughout the country. Although, there have been many rape cases, but this ruthless incident of motorway rape victim took the limelight and became the voice of many unheard sufferers.
Ensuring proper laws in place is the first step towards a just society for Pakistan which protects its rights of citizens regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, faith or ethnicity.
Government’s Take on Castration
The Lahore motorway incident shook the entire nation and the extreme outrage compelled the higher authorities to take action. And the alleged rapists were ordered an arrest.
The PM also suggested chemical castration and public hanging of the rapists. He added that such crimes are extremely shameful for any civilized society, law enforcement agencies have been tasked with arresting the culprits at the earliest. The police have been under enormous pressure to find those responsible for the recent disappearances.
Pakistan is a predominantly patriarchal society and it took a long time for women’s rights legislation to be enforced. However, reforms like the Rights Against Abuse of Women at the Workplace Act, Women’s Protection Bill, the Acid and Burn Crime Bill, directed at shielding women and prosecuting ‘honor killings’ are still a hope for silently surviving victims.
Besides, it is a moral and social responsibility of every individual, in particular human rights and gender rights campaigners to initiate campaigns to put the problem to the forefront and put an end to it.