close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
September 21, 2020

Stark realities

Editorial

 
September 21, 2020

In the ten days since the motorway gang-rape took place, there have been reports of at least nine other cases of rape from various cities of Punjab. Some of these took place in the presence of family members, including husbands or parents, others took place in the presence of children or involved children themselves. In at least one case, the police refused to record the matter or file an FIR leading to the victim, a young woman in Bahawalpur, committing suicide.

This is now an issue that needs to be looked at in depth. These are not isolated incidents, they are part of a wider, broader syndrome. Yes, rape and sexual abuse takes places all over the world. But penalties are handed out more commonly than is the case here. While five rapes occur in Pakistan each day, in most of these no one is convicted. There is a failure within our entire justice system, which makes it difficult to bring the perpetrators of rape to justice in a befitting manner. We are not talking here about punishment such as public hanging. What we need is to ensure the penalty written out under the law is delivered in each case, and that the culprits involved in rape are duly apprehended and not allowed to go free. So far, ten days after the motorway incident, the main accused has still not been apprehended. This is dangerous and sends out a terrible message. We need to deal with rape in a far firmer manner. We also need to make clear precisely what consent is and that only adult females can offer it. Sex without consent is rape, no matter where it occurs, or how it takes place.

The warning by the CCPO Lahore that women should not leave their homes without a male escort is also made meaningless by the case in which dacoits broke into a home and raped female members of the family in the presence of male members. This simply shows that women are not safe whether they are within their homes or outside them. It would make no difference if they went out or not. There can be no doubt that cases of rape are being reported more frequently since the motorway assault took place. But this is largely ephemeral. Once the news cycle dies down, so does the attention on the issue. We must ensure that crimes against women and children remain in focus so that they can be dealt with effectively and without making survivors still worse off by being humiliated, threatened, or simply denied their basic rights as citizens of the country.