Recently, a workshop titled Prevention of Violence against Women was held to train police officials in fair first information report (FIR) writing and sensitivity in ‘honour’ killing or karo-kari murder cases. The workshop was held after it was realised that SHOs register cases of crimes against women under lenient legal sections, which results in the culprits going free after receiving the benefit of doubt or due to insufficient evidence.
In many such cases, the police are the first-responders and possess the important responsibility of accurately noting all details and seizing all evidence. SHOs at the workshop admitted that often details are not noted and the murder weapon is not taken under possession, alluding that officers favour suspects and find their ‘honour’ killings to be excusable. Because of the attitudes of SHOs, citizens should not be afraid or reluctant to come forth to police stations. This is the opposite of what a police force stands for; citizens are supposed to come forth to the police to seek protection from outside threats. Police officers must be trained in how to properly write FIRs before being admitted to the police force and should be reminded that their duty is to protect the innocent.
Further, it was revealed that rural women are prevented from attending school and brainwashed into thinking that a woman’s sole responsibility in life is to tend to the household and work on the fields. While this represents a grassroots level problem in that women have to be taught about their worth and potential, the workshop is a start, by alerting the protectors of citizens’ rights, the police, of the sensitivities regarding women in their areas. The workshop effort, which started in 2010, should continue until it produces better results across Pakistan in equal treatment being dealt to women. One also hopes that its purposes are extended beyond women to equal treatment towards Pakistan’s precious minority communities.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2012.