In the last few years, Pakistan has gained significant notoriety because of the rise in rapes and other crimes against women and children. Unfortunately, the government has failed to act against this rising epidemic of violence and crime against women and children. Every day we come across news of yet another episode of brutality against women or young children.
In Punjab alone, 3,881 cases of rape and 1,359 cases of sexual abuse were registered in the past year. According to police officials, the number of cases reported only reveals part of the picture and the reality is much bleaker. Many victims of violence, assault, and abuse are unable to report their cases because of shame, stigma, absence of support, lack of access, etc. Given our poor track record, it is extremely worrisome that the government has still not enforced rigorous policies and laws to prevent the violence epidemic plaguing our country.
Many countries have established support services for victims of violence and assault. There are 24/7 hotlines available for victims to seek immediate help. Although the provincial and federal governments have recently undertaken initiatives to lend support to women and children, these measures are far from enough. Our women and children should not have to live in a constant state of fear. To alleviate sexual assault, violence, and abuse, we need a reformation of the entire mindsets of people. Those in positions of power must not take a victim-blaming and shaming stance, people should be educated on the rights of women and children and the need to protect them. The police should be trained on how to deal with victims and their complaints. Most importantly, those found guilty should be punished strictly.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2022.