The discovery of the body of a seven-year-old girl, who had gone missing from her home in Gulistan-e-Jauhar in Karachi, on March 5, seems to be part of a string of copycat murders of young girls. The deceased, who had been raped before she was killed, is the third such murdered rape victim in the city in the last few months. One of the other victims, too, was from the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area. So far, the police have not been able to catch a single culprit, or even ascertain if the rape-murders were carried out by the same perpetrators. As time passes, it becomes even more unlikely that those responsible will be caught and these young girls will simply become another forgotten crime statistic.
The fact is that with a little help from technology, these crimes should not be quite so difficult to solve. While committing the rape-murders, it is very likely that the perpetrators left behind DNA particles. The problem is that, only the University of Karachi and the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital have facilities for DNA testing. Further, it can take three to four months to procure the results. Even if DNA testing is conducted, the database in Karachi is so small that it is very unlikely that the sample can be matched to a particular person. What is needed is, for DNA samples to be collected every time a criminal is sent to jail and those records should then be maintained so that the police can establish a sufficient database for DNA testing which could useful for other culprits.
Equally important is a need for the police to treat sexual crimes with the seriousness they deserve. The offensiveness of such crimes is multiplied by an infinite amount when the victims are minors. The girl who was raped and killed in Gulistan-e-Jauhar was the daughter of a rickshaw driver, so issues of wealth and class also come into play. It is an unfortunate fact that you have to be rich and able to exert influence for the police to take your case seriously. Without that, justice is just a pipe dream for most in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.