Attitude of LEAs and those given the responsibility to uphold the criminal justice system is major hindrance for women
Cases of rape marred by police negligence and failure to file FIRs continue to surface, clearly highlighting the need in the country for the Anti-Rape laws (Criminal Amendment) Bill 2013, recently adopted by the Senate. While the Bill can be considered a major milestone for Pakistan wherein any official found trivialising the gravity of an alleged rape would be held accountable, given our cultural disregard for the seriousness of rape as a crime, one wonders whether having such progressive laws would ever bear any fruit. In the most recent case of police negligence in a rape case, there is, unfortunately, no survivor. A 20-year-old alleged rape victim set herself on fire in front of Muzaffargarh City Police Station in protest against the inaction by the police to file her case and launch an investigation. While there are varying accounts of the details, all accounts unanimously acknowledge that there is a failure on the police’s part to report the case and help the victim seek justice — evidenced by the lack of filing of an FIR.
The attitude of law-enforcement agencies and those given the responsibility to uphold the criminal justice system is a major hindrance for women (and men) who want to come forward with complaints of sexual harassment and rape. Victims, no matter how courageous, instead either have to face apathy or judging gazes, adding to the insecurity already being felt — and are then pushed to do the unthinkable. The Punjab chief minister has offered monetary compensation to the girl’s family as well as a job for her brother. This system, while it may financially aid the girl’s family, has no bearing in serving justice. One hopes fervently that the anti-rape Bill will one day help not only in taking to task the perpetrators in this particular case, but also the police officers responsible for the victim’s suicide. In a society where even parents end up exhorting their children to keep silent on matters of sexual harassment for the ‘sanctity’ and ‘reputation’ of the family, the role of the police and other keepers of justice becomes even more paramount for helping survivors.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.