By: Sohail Khattak
KARACHI: The highest incidence of sexual violence have been reported in Bin Qasim Town (18%) and Orangi Town (14%), announced War Against Rape (WAR) while releasing its latest statistics on Karachi at a news conference at the press club on Thursday.
WAR Director Sarah Zaman explained that sexual violence against children increased in the first half of this year as compared to last year. Meanwhile, the average age of survivors has gone down to 13 from 18 years and it also appears that the majority of the victims were attacked by people from their immediate circle.
Of the rape survivors, 86 per cent were female while 14 per cent were male.
Almost half the survivors were children under the age of 12. Teenagers under 16 years made up 67 per cent of the survivors. Meanwhile, 23 per cent of the survivors’ families shifted from their homes to escape persecution.
Of the 41 FIRs registered in sexual assault cases, 138 medico-legal exams were conducted but only 27 were taken to court. By the end of June 2011, there were 465 old cases of sexual violence pending in courts.
The data collected by WAR was from Jinnah Hospital, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Civil hospital and Capital City Police Office, Karachi.
Zaman observed that while cases are increasing, lesser cases are being filed. “The state services are inadequate, inefficient and insensitive towards the issue which is reflected in the fact that fewer FIRs are being registered and more survivors are opting not to report,” said Zaman. “Police investigations (are) biased, discouraging women from seeking justice”.
She demanded that the legal definition of sexual violence be broadened to include child molestation and non-penetrative offences. She also felt that training law enforcers and medico-legal officers would help reduce the victimisation of survivors. Another improvement would be a specific time, set legally, for the litigation of sexual assault cases.
WAR representative Khalida Ahmed Qadri said that the distance between the police and people has increased since city governments emerged. People are not reporting their cases to the police, and are avoiding medico-legal investigations. Instead, they opt for local mediation. She cited the example of a case in Orangi Town in which the local arbitrators married a girl to the man who raped her.
She blamed the police for their insensitivity in such cases. “I have gone to police stations with girls,” said Qadri, “their conduct is very intolerable and they deliberately make you late.”
Source: The Express Tribune