ISLAMABAD: Zero. That is the conviction rate for rape cases filed over the last five years in Pakistan, according to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Syeda Sughra Imam. Speaking before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, the senator said the dismal statistics led her to move a bill to amend existing laws on the issue.
The committee met under the chairmanship of the PPP’s Senator Kazim Khan for a roundtable discussion with representatives from bar councils. “We will first determine why the conviction rate is zero and whether [it is something inherent] in the laws, the judiciary or the legal procedure itself,” Senator Kazim told The Express Tribune on Sunday. “In my opinion, the stages of legal procedure, investigation and trial require comprehensive legislation,” said Senator Imam.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) 2013 report, 2,576 cases of rape were registered in Punjab in 2013 – the highest among all provinces. According to official records, 127 cases of rape and three cases of gang-rape were registered in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa last year, whereas 27 cases of gang-rape were reported in Sindh. The conviction rate in cases of sexual and other violence against women remained critically low and on December 13, female senators staged a walkout from the Senate to protest the lack of convictions.
According to a research study by Rutgers World Population Foundation (WPF) in Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Jaffarabad, and Naseerabad districts, 66 per cent of women interviewed said that they had experienced sexual violence, whereas 93 per cent said that they had been subjected to marital rape.
Imam suggests that amendments be made to Article 218A of the Constitution, which deals with defective investigation. As per her proposed amendment, “Whoever being a public servant, entrusted with the investigation of a case, registered under section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code, fails to carry out the investigation properly and in breach of his duties, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
Imam suggested that amending Article 228A of the Constitution, which deals with the disclosure of the rape victim’s identity, would include a new section stating, “Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under Section 376 is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as ‘the victim’) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2014.