By: Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD: The tiny village of Rampur Awal in Mirwala, Punjab, is a cauldron of shame. Its residents can’t seem to shake off the stigma of the repeated rape of fourteen-year-old R* by her stepfather, who allegedly also forced her to abort twice.
“I don’t want to live anymore. Repeated rape and later abortions brought shame upon me,” R told The Express Tribune via phone.
Six months have passed but the local police have failed to arrest the 49-year-old culprit, Shah Nawaz, who is a landlord in the village.
A senior police officer, who was investigating R’s case at Jatoi police station Muzaffargarh, confirmed the case, adding that it ‘looked genuine’. “But an influential local landlord is a stumbling block in the proceeding of this case,” he said, while requesting anonymity.
R is the latest addition to Mukhtar Mai Shelter Centre for Rape Victims in Mirwala, Muzaffargarh.
“Nobody listens to rape victims now residing in my shelter,” said Mukhtar Mai, a social worker, who was herself subjected to gang rape in 2002. She asked as to how the rapist in R’s case managed to elude the police for six months.
“The chief justice is the only hope for R and other rape victims living here in my shelter,” she said.
However, ‘R’ and other inmates of Mukhtar Mai’s centre are not the only rape victims seeking justice. According to statistics provided by Ministry of Interior, more than 14, 583 rape cases were registered in the country during the last five years but only 1, 041 (7%) rapists are convicted by courts so far.
Punjab province witnessed 12, 796 (88%) rape cases during this period while 1, 077 (7%) cases were registered in Sindh, said the official figures available with The Express Tribune.
The stats reveal that more than 458 (3%) rape cases were registered in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P), 92 in Balochistan, 60 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 11 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 90 cases were registered in Islamabad Capital Territory.
Last year, the figures of rape victims shot up as compared to previous years. Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sughra Imam also raised this issue in the Senate.
More than 222 rape victims got registered their cases with various police stations while only three accused were convicted in Sindh last year. In 2012, 143 rape cases were registered but only six accused were convicted in the province.
Over 108 rape complaints were lodged in K-P last year while police registered only 54 rape cases in the province. Interestingly, not a single accused was convicted by courts in the province.
Since 2008, only one accused was convicted in federal capital, which witnessed 28 rape cases last year. Three rapists were convicted by the courts in the AJK while five persons have been convicted in the G-B in last five years.
Farkhanda Aurangzeb of Aurat Foundation – who has also served at the senior most post in women development ministry – said unreported rapes are a silent shame for the state where majority of cases are still pending with the courts.
She stressed on promptly addressing the loopholes in existing laws dealing with such crimes. “Rape victims can’t get justice until laws are amended. Rapists must be punished and process of implementation on amended laws must be enforced by the government,” she said.
“Waderas and landlords are usually involved in such crimes and no one dares to pursue cases against them,” she observed.