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‘Courts should not rely heavily on medical evidence in rape cases’

Karachi: The courts should not rely heavily on medical evidence in a rape case, and the victim’s account should be considered enough.

This was stated by the director of War Against Rape, Sarah Zaman, at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.

She was presenting an overview on the legal and procedural deterrents to justice in rape cases.

She said that the legal definition of sexual violence needed to be broadened to include incest, object rape, digital rape and marital rape.

The rapists must not be granted bail as they threatened the survivor and her family once they were bailed out, Zaman said.

She called for timely and expeditious trials, and said that the relevant departments should respond immediately to such cases.

The WAR director said that the curriculum must be used to stop gender stereotyping.

Meanwhile, WAR shared with the attendees of the press conference some of its data on rape cases. According to the data, a majority of the victims of sexual assaults in 2010 were children.

The police registered only 80 cases of sexual violence, it said.

Around 55 percent of the total cases of sexual assaults involved teenagers under 18 while 43 percent involved under 16s.

Around 34 percent cases comprised victims in the 18 to 23 age bracket.

A representative of WAR, Rukhsana Siddiqi, said that the NGO had collected the data on sexual abuse from the Civil Hospital, the JPMC and the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

She said that WAR investigated 96 cases in 2010, while the rest could not be taken to court for various reasons, one being the relocation of the victims.

Khalida Ahmed Quadr, the socio-legal officer of WAR, said that since the NGO’s inception some 22 years ago, it had been observed that the social taboos and problems associated with the crime which had been prevalent then existed even today.

She said that fewer rape cases were reported at the beginning of 2010, but by the end of the year, the figure rose.

She said that a lot of cases involving sexual assaults, especially incest, went unreported.

She praised the courage of the victims who were brave enough to fight the long and tiring battle to attain justice.

She said that only cases from impoverished localities were being reported while incidents taking place in affluent areas were hushed up, and even if the victim stepped forward for justice in such cases, the influential people involved in the heinous crime pressured the victim into taking the case back.

She cited the example of a JPMC nurse and the gang rape incident that took place in Defence recently, in which the victims were stopped from pursuing the case.

Shiraz Ahmed spoke of male victims of sexual abuse, saying that most of the cases went unreported as society was unable to accept that the crime of male rape existed.

He said that doctors and medico-legal officers needed to be sensitized on respecting the privacy of the victims.

Korangi Town tops the list

The sexual violence cases investigated by WAR highlighted the following facts:

*Highest number of incidents took place in Korangi Town (22%), followed by Gadap Town (15%), Gulshan-e-Iqbal (9%) and Bin Qasim Town (6%).

*32% cases were of gang rape.

*Majority (95%) of rape victims are female while the rest are male

*In 2010, there was an 8% increase in police reporting of sexual assault and a 7% increase in medico-legal examinations as compared to 2009.

*Five children were raped and murdered in 2010.

Source: The News