LAHORE: The Awami Workers Party (AWP) held a demonstration here on Friday to condemn the manner in which the police are investigating the teenage rape case as well as a lack of sensitivity towards the plight of rape survivors in the coverage of the story in a weekly publication.
Scores of activists from the AWP, the Democratic Students Alliance and the Feminist Collective gathered outside the Lahore Press Club and demanded that in the short-term a sensitisation training should immediately be held for the police to be entrusted with investigation of sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
The protesters said impartial investigation of such and other matters involving women could not be ensured without such training.
Among other things, this training should enable the officials concerned to unlearn the chauvinist behaviour and its accompanying prejudices that make it next to impossible for women to approach a police station to report a crime.
These prejudices, they said, contributed towards the trend of blaming the women in sexual assault (domestic violence, harassment and other) cases.
The protesters said the training should be framed after consulting women from a cross-section of society, including the parliament, political parties, labour and human rights organisations.
Other short term measures included ensuring effective investigation and dispensation of justice to rape and domestic violence survivors, induction of more women at police stations and putting in place an acceptable mechanism for oversight of the investigation.
Highlighting the need for ethical reporting of sexual assault cases, the protesters condemned the lack of sensitivity towards the plight of rape survivors in the coverage of the teenage rape case in the gossips section of a weekly.
They rejected the clarification as insufficient to undo the harm done in the first instance and supported an online effort to demand an unconditional apology from the publication.
They said the trivialisation of the sexual assault case in a publication known otherwise for its liberal credentials affirmed that sexism was rife in society and that progressive politics could not be resurrected in the country without condemning the underlying socialisation process responsible for production and reproduction of gender-based stereotypes.
Those who spoke included AWP secretary-general Farooq Tariq, women wing secretary Abida Chaudhry and Punjab vice-president Khalid Mahmood.