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‘Delayed implementation of anti-rape bill is prolonging cases’

‘Delayed implementation of anti-rape bill is prolonging cases’

KARACHI: The shortcomings in the implementation of the anti-rape bill should be resolved immediately as it has prolonged the process of justice to rape victims, said resident director of the Aurat Foundation, Mahnaz Rahman.

Rahman was speaking at an advocacy session organised by War Against Rape (WAR) at Beach Luxury Hotel on Thursday. She was of the view that while Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have achieved some great milestones in resolving cases of rape victims and harassment issues, there are still shortcomings and loopholes in the process of implementation of the bill, which has created many issues for the victims.

Rape is a sensitive issue, she said, adding that NGOs must focus on implementation of the bill and educating society about issues related to gender-based violence. She was of the view that Pakistan is an ‘overly legislated country’, with many laws but little implementation. Rahman said that even though bills keep getting passed in the parliament, until we, the public, are taken on board, attitudes cannot be changed.

Rahman shared how, while living in China, she learnt that before passing any bill, their parliament asked their local union councils and neighbourhood committees to discuss the bill and law with the public in order to gauge public response.

She emphasised that once the public is educated on issues related to gender-based violence, such cases will also decrease and the attitude of the police and judiciary towards these cases will also change in a positive manner as they are a part of the public, too. Highlighting the flaws in reporting such cases by the media, Rahman said they have seen how some media groups revealed the identity of the victim, which they absolutely should not do.

Also present at the session, WAR project director Arisha Qayyum said that they believe that after the induction of more medico-legal officers in the health department, the process of medical reports and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing will become easier for the victims as after 72 hours, the DNA evidence vanishes from the body of the victim.

Qayyum said that, sadly, after severe rape-induced trauma, victims have to bear a secondary trauma while pursuing their cases with the police and judiciary as they are often asked humiliating questions.

“We also need to train our police and media on how to react to such cases and also teach them the code of ethics specifically for cases related to gender-based violence and rape,” she urged.

The Express Tribune

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