WAR seminar: Research points to systemic imbalances in prosecuting rapists

Published: June 27, 2012
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"The victim could end up spending nearly four years in court. Even then, there is only a minor chance of two to three per cent that the culprit is convicted.” PHOTO: FILE

"The victim could end up spending nearly four years in court. Even then, there is only a minor chance of two to three per cent that the culprit is convicted.” PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The police, lawyers and judges and medico legal officers need to change their attitude when dealing with victims of sexual assault. War Against Rape (WAR) researchers made this observation as the non-governmental organisation presented three research studies on violence against women at a local hotel on Tuesday.

Director of WAR, Sara Zaman said that the organization had been working on these studies since three years,as it took a lot of time to understand laws and procedures, and comprehend the attitudes of people who deal with rape survivors.

Maliha Zia Lari, one of the researchers of a study titled “Sexual Violence and the Law in Pakistan,” lamented that the country’s law books were devoid of specific punishments for object rape, incest, digital rape necrophilia, marital rape and other forms of sexual violence. However, some provisions in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) could be used to register cases against these crimes. Under PPC’s section 375, which deals with rape, a married woman can register an FIR against marital rape.

Senior researcher for the Collective for Social Science Research, Ayesha Khan, in her study, “Criminal Justice System and Rape,” said that sexual violence victims faced multiple problems when they tried to report the incident. “The victim could end up spending nearly four years in court. Even then, there is only a minor chance of two to three per cent that the culprit is convicted.”

Khan cited a case involving a three-and-half-year-old girl, who was raped by her brother in law. The child was afraid to identify her rapist in court, and the culprit was acquitted by the court.

She said that the police often refuse to register FIRs against suspects and encouraged the two parties to settle the dispute on their own.

WAR programme manager Sanaa Rasheed shared her findings on a study on incest, titled “With an End in Sight, Incest in Pakistan: A legal and socio-cultural analysis.” Rasheed called for a law for prosecuting people involved in the activity.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.

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