The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women has written a letter to Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains and the prosecutor general pointing out insensitive investigation of a teenage rape survivor.
The letter has been written in the wake of the girl’s attempt to commit suicide as reported by her family a week ago.
“The commission has been in communication with police for quite some time. A formal complaint in this regard was sent on Friday. The commission has also issued a condemnation statement,” PCSW Chairperson Fauzia Viqar told The Express Tribune.
Viqar said the commission had been monitoring the situation and was in contact with the child’s family. However, she said, the commission had been unable to meet the child due to reluctance of her family to allow visitors. “We can’t figure out why the family is reluctant… it has been claiming that too many people from the government are meeting them.”
She said that being an oversight department, the commission was monitoring whether or not the government departments concerned were providing assistance where it was needed.
Viqar says the commission’s view is that the government machinery is active. The commission has pointed to reports of insensitivity towards the child during investigation. Her family says that was the reason for her attempting suicide. Viqar says the commission has called for greater sensitivity during investigation.
With regard to the information that has emerged she says that sexual relations with a minor amount to statutory rape. “It is illegal irrespective of consent,” she says.
Police had initially arrested eight suspects. The DNA report of the victim had revealed rape by one suspect; semen samples of another were also found on her clothes. Viqar says some people are quick to disregard the severity of the crime altogether.
Citing Section 376 (2) of the Pakistan Penal Code, she says a gang-rape involves two or more people… two people, if not eight, have been found involved. “A reference to the character of the victim is frequently invoked to let the perpetrator off. This should not be permissible.”
Reorganisation of institutions
Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs Chairperson Azma Bukhari has called for reorganisation of various government institutions.
“The reality is far from perfect since exploitation of women goes on at all levels,” she says. In case of a rape victim, she says, there is exploitation at all stages including registration of FIR, medical examination and investigation. “The relevant institutions need to be reorganised in a scientific way,” she says.
Bukhari says she hopes that the long-delayed legislation on protection of women against violence will help resolve some aspects of the larger issue. “Women centres, as provided in the bill, will provide medical, legal and psychological support [to victims],” she says. “There is a huge gap between where we stand and where we want to be but we are on the right track,” says Bukhari.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2016.
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