Seeking justice for rape

The one thing Kainat's long saga should not lead us to do is believe that our justice system is working well.


Editorial December 19, 2012

Justice in Pakistan may be slow but there is a chance that with a lot of luck, courage and perseverance, it may eventually arrive. Kainat Soomro was viciously gang-raped back in 2007, when she was only 13 years old and has been on a quest for justice ever since. She credibly accused four men of the crime but instead was declared “kari” herself for dishonouring tribal customs. Unlike most young girls, Kainat did not succumb to brutal societal pressure, instead she lodged a case against the four men she accused of the rape in Dadu. For another three years, she fought a doomed legal battle at the sessions court but ultimately, the men were acquitted because of supposedly conflicting evidence. Even then Kainat was not deterred. She then went to the Sindh High Court where finally, after two more years of legal hell, the arrest of the four men has been ordered. It may have taken far too long but it seems like she may get a measure of justice.

The one thing her long saga should not lead us to do is believe that our justice system is working well. That this case has gone as far as this is due solely to Kainat’s heroism. She was rebuffed by both society and the judiciary but refused to be treated as a citizen without any rights. What should have been her natural rights at birth was instead something she had to fight for. The court’s belated realisation of its duties shows not that the judiciary is functional but that it has to be shamed into action.

While Kainat might have an opportunity for closure as her rapists are put behind bars, the same cannot be said for countless other rape survivors in the country. Perceived shame and tradition lead to most rape cases not being reported. Then, despite being illegal, jirgas and the like continue to enjoy popular support and patronage from local bigwigs and have absolutely no interest in the rights of women. The courts are lethargic and rarely empathetic. Society at large has little understanding of the causes and effects of rape. In Pakistan, Kainat is the honourable exception, not the general rule.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.

COMMENTS (13)

Dr V. C. Bhutani | 8 years ago | Reply

I missed this editorial earlier and saw it only this morning (24 Dec). There has been on the one hand a lively debate between commenters here and on the other your exceedingly well written editorial, couched in measured tones. An act of criminality does not become any less so if it is committed in one’s own society, whether it is Pakistan or India. In India there is much that we need to be ashamed of and which needs correction. Unfortunately, the hold of feudalism in the Indian hinterland is still strong: women do not receive as much respect and consideration as they should. But there is also realization that this needs to be rectified. Therein lies hope. It seems we cannot be too confident that even Sind high court will do the right thing. Often courts go by law as on the statute book and not by natural justice. Considering our historical experience – which is much the same in India and Pakistan – our courts are courts of law, not courts of justice. Seemingly, law may be upheld. But that may not amount to justice always. It is possible that Kainat may run up against influential people who can influence the court. Let us hope she gets justice. Kainat has been not only an exception but an extraordinary girl. We have seen only too often in India that victims of rape have to just shut up and suffer their humiliation because not many witnesses come forward. Much of the time rape is an activity which is not performed in public: witnesses are hard to find and, when found, they are terrorized into silence. Ordinarily, perhaps a medical examination can be crucial. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 24 Dec 2012, 0540 IST

shakrullah | 8 years ago | Reply

@Introspection:

You have dealt with BruteForce with the brutality he deserves ; he dared to show us our ugly face rather than focussing on the ugly face of India . We have no flaws and need no correction : this is what you want us to introspect about ? What is your argument , Sir ? If rapes are rampant in India , does it make rapes in Pakistan holy and pious ? Every time some evil in our society is pointed out, our mighty radars come into action to survey the whole world, and the moment we find some country where that evil exists we concentrate on that and take our sights away from our own ugly features . This is the sickness of mind , Sir , which disallows us to see and rectify our own flaws and failings .

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