Karachi: The year 2010 saw a shift in the judiciary’s approach towards rape and gang rape cases as the number of verdicts announced in several such cases was higher than the last year.
According to figures, around six per cent verdicts of all cases announced in 2010 pertained to rape and gang rape offences as compared to 2009 when the judgments of such cases were only three per cent. Amongst these cases, judgments were also passed in high-profile rape and gang rape cases of Naseema Lubano, Kainat Soomro and three-year-old baby Sana.
Director of War against Rape (WAR) Sara Zaman has termed it a positive year as far as the trial of rape cases is concerned. She justified her statement, saying, her organization that has been working especially for rape victims and survivors has won six cases that it pursued.
“It is because of the National Judicial Policy that the courts have started to wind up cases quickly, including rape cases. Previously, the courts would take up three to four years to pass their judgments, but now the trend has changed as the cases are now being concluded within a period of one-and-a-half years.”
Sara Zaman also appreciated the media for highlighting rape cases and exerting pressure on government and police officials to take notice of such cases, saying: “The current situation does not necessarily mean that rape incidents are on the rise, rather it indicates that the people are now reporting incidents and the media is highlighting them”.
Talking on the issue, prominent lawyer Zia Ahmed Awan seemed satisfied with a recent court judgment, awarding death sentence on two counts to one Sher Khan for raping and murdering a five-year-old girl.
“This case highlights that speedy justice can be given to people fighting against the heinous crime of rape. There is now a ray of hope for the victims and their families that they can also get justice.” He, however, said that there was a need for stronger criminal justice dispensation as well as introducing survivors’ rehabilitation programs and sensitizing police, medico-legal officers and judiciary in this regard.
Aasia Muneer advocate says that while the cases are being handled rapidly, the society’s bias towards rape survivors is yet to be eliminated.
“Now when severe punishments are being handed down, the culprits use to file appeals in the high courts and secure release. This trend should be changed, as when a court convicts an accused of such crime, he should not be released on appeal. I believe that the attitude of the people should also be changed vis-a-vis rape, which is a heinous crime.”
Corroborating this viewpoint, Sara Zaman said: “Initially police use to mess up such cases by delaying the registration of FIR, and then changing the words of the FIR. And when a survivor is taken for examination, the medico-legal officer does not examine the survivor properly, and does not mention the details in the report.
Later, when the case is brought to the court, the public prosecutor is unaware as to how to run the case. They seemed to be more interested in knowing the background of the survivor rather than interrogating the accused.”
Source: The News