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Tuesday February 27, 2024

Protesters block road against F-9 Park rape incident

February 07, 2023

Islamabad:A large number of people belonging to all walks of life gathered in front of F-9 Park and blocked the road to express their outrage over the recent rape incident that has raised many questions regarding safety of women at public places. They demanded strict action and swift investigation by the Islamabad Police.

Scores of people, including young students, activists, human rights groups and families gathered to express solidarity and support for the survivors and their families of two rape incidents, one in F-9 Park and another in a moving bus in Wehari came to surface, atrocious crimes.

The protestors were holding placards inscribed with slogans saying that “Roads and parks are for us. These are not the property of men,” “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but those who remained silent,” and “Riayasat jawab dou. Kiya mera jism aur rapist ki merzi?” etc. They chanted slogans and made speeches condemning the incident and demanding immediate arrest of the rapists. At the end, the protestors held night walk in the park and tied pieces of cloths and ‘dopattas’ on the park gate.

According to official police records, only in the last one year 36 cases of sexual violence, have been recorded, 6 of them being rape cases against girls and women and 31 people have been looted at gunpoint while a local manager of a private food company has been murdered. In light of these facts, the Islamabad Safe City Project has proven itself to be a joke, and only used for surveillance of activists and against ordinary citizens, said the protesters. The condemned the fact that despite complete cooperation of the survivor, it has been 4 days and the police have failed to find the accused.

Talking to ‘The News’, eminent human rights activist Tahira Abdullah condemned the ICT police advice to women not to walk in the Fatima Jinnah Park after sunset. “A horrible example of survivor/victim-blaming rather than taking the blame for their own failure to protect residents of the Federal Capital, the so-called Safe City,” she said. Tahira condemned the high acquittal rate of rapists, where under 3 per cent are caught or convicted. She demanded the implementation of the 2016 law on Rape, enforcing life imprisonment till death, without possibility of parole or remission. She reiterated that it is not the severity but the certainty of punishment that will act as a deterrent in future. She condemned the castration clause of the PTI law.

Activist Farzana Bari said that every citizen of Islamabad should have joined the protest as it is the matter of every family. “Women are not safe in their own homes or in public spaces from strangers and yet people in this country find ways to victim-blame the survivors. The fact that the rapists in F9 Park told the survivor to not go out so late at night after subjecting her to rape at gunpoint speaks volumes about the deplorable situation of women's rights in this country. The fact that a bus driver and guard colluded to facilitate the rape of their own colleague without any hesitation that it would be traced to them is nerve-wrecking.” said Farzana Bari of WDF and Awami Workers Party.

President Women Democratic Front (WDF) Ismat Shahjahan said that such incidents are yet another reminder of the sexual barbarism and gender-based violence against women, transbodies and other marginalised citizens of Pakistan, that is strengthening its roots with every passing day. “Women are not safe in their homes, in public parks, in buses, in the workplace, in schools, in universities, even in their own graves,” she said. “We do not believe that women have to justify their presence in public spaces. We shun the disparity of safety in public between men and women. And we mourn the state and the society’s complicity in this violence against women across the country.” said Baba Jan in his speech.

A statement issued by WDF says that state has failed to protect its women in the capital and other cities. The statement condemned the fact that the rapists in F9 Park told the survivor to not go out so late at night after subjecting her to rape at gunpoint speaks volumes about the deplorable situation of women’s rights in this country. “We salute the survivor of the F9 Park incident for her courage to file FIR and we will stand by her until justice is brought to the armed rapists who have now endangered the largest public park in the capital.”

The statement says that this is not the first time that a woman has been subjected to sexual violence in a public space especially F-9 Park, yet the city administration, and elected leadership has failed to provide women the right to dignified life. “We demand the state and government of Pakistan to provide one half of its citizens with the same dignity and right to access the public space as it does to its men,” said the statement.