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September 16, 2020

Motorway gang rape incident echoes in Senate

Top Story

September 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition parties in the Senate Tuesday strongly condemned the recent gang rape incident on the motorway and called for revamping of the system to rid the nation of rising menace of sexual abuse.

While the PPP Parliamentary Leader Sherry Rehman and ex-chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani vehemently opposed public hanging of rapists, another PPP senator and former interior minister A Rehman Malik fully supported public hanging of such culprits.

Majority of senators, who spoke on the incident, from the opposition and government side, poured scorn on the Lahore CCPO and called for an appropriate action against him for his remarks, “blaming the lady for the mishap”. One senator billed him as ‘Noori Natt’, a villain character of a Punjabi movie, and alleged he was imposed to fix the rivals.

Taking part in the debate after the eventful question hour, Sherry Rehman contended that this issue should not be politicised and maintained that on the international day of democracy, “We should remember what democracy stands for”. She remarked, “It is important that right words are used. Stop calling it an incident, because it is not one, as it did not just happen like that. It’s a deliberate act of violence against a woman. The only word for it is gang rape.”

She grilled the CCPO for his callous sexist statement and noted that instead of doing his job, which was protecting the citizens of this country, the CCPO tried to become the guardian of public morality. She said this was not the time to ask why she did not get petrol. “His (CCPO’s) late apology left a very bad taste, as it seemed meaningless and just done to get it out of the way,” Sherry said.

Then, she pointed out there were ministers supporting his victim-shaming while the PM kept quiet for days. “What kind of message was being given to the public? That our women should not go out and just stay home? Are women and children not safe in this Naya Pakistan?”

Sherry said Punjab Police is being protected instead of the women of Pakistan, who have been told that they are on their own. “That if they travel alone or exercise their constitutional rights as citizens in public spaces, then they open themselves up to attack. Crimes are committed everywhere in the world but this is not the message you send out,” she asserted.

The prime minister, she noted, had finally broken his silence by calling for chemical castration for rapists but public hangings and castrations have not proved to be a deterrent anywhere. She said even the Supreme Court has banned public hangings. “This is public diversion from real, more pervasive issue of chasing better investigation and prosecution of crimes. The crime of rape already carries a death penalty in our laws,” she said.

Senator Raza Rabbani said that public execution would make the society more oppressive. “Didn’t Ziaul Haq give public execution, did rape and crime end? Didn’t Zia whip political activists? Were flogging ended political movements?” he argued.

Read Article 12 of the Constitution, he pointed out, with reference to public hanging, and said that this would only brutalise the society and hatred would spread far and wide. “What type of state is this that does not learn from its own history,” he wondered.

He emphasised that the solution was not in public execution, nothing would happen with legislation, you passed the bill but they were not implemented, if the government removes the CCPO, it would be a slap in the face of the mindset, which was reflected in his remarks.