By: ASIM IQBAL
Rape, the worst form of violence against women, is increasing by the day in Pakistan. In 2011, 827 rape cases were reported while in 2012 the number of cases crossed the 2,700 mark. The situation is so bad that even minor and early teenage girls are not safe. Only last month, three girls six to 14 years of age were raped but the culprits were not arrested. Rape incidents have become so common in Pakistan that society hardly takes any notice of brutalities against women. The reason rape is so frequent is because the act of rape does not occur only because of lust.
Sometimes, it is used as a weapon to humiliate rival groups and families. Sometimes it occurs to take revenge over personal disputes. However, the reason for this menace increasing every day is the ineffectiveness of our law and order system. There is no fear of punishment among the people who commit sexual crimes because there are many flaws in our system, which help offenders in legal battles with justice not being served to the victim. When a woman is raped and she goes to a police station to get the case registered, the police do not cooperate and first refuse to file the complaint. If the case is registered and the culprits are arrested, they are released due to an insufficient investigation report. Another problem the victim has to face is the threats issued to her from the rapists. Most rape cases end in a settlement because the victims are forced to compromise. In case of refusal, the offenders threaten them with serious consequences. The Sonia Naz rape case is the latest example of a case disposed of by the court on January 10, 2013 after a compromise was reached between the parties.
If the victim and her family do not withdraw the case their lives are made miserable and sometimes they are even killed. Uzma Ayub’s and Kainat Soomro’s cases can be presented as examples. If we want to protect women and eliminate this heinous crime from society, we will have to show zero tolerance for sexual abuse. There is also a need to set up speedy trial courts, comprised of women judges, for the hearing of rape cases because only a woman can understand the suffering of female rape victims.