Rape is a crime so frequently perpetrated in Pakistan that it almost seems to have become a norm of sorts. News reports on this front have little shock value because they appear so often. This also makes it more difficult to keep the issue as alive and relevant as it needs to be. This in turn makes it difficult for society to understand the depths of brutality and barbarity of the crime, which is why news items on rape often fail to create a stir. In yet another case this past week that failed to elicit the reaction it deserved, an eight-year-old girl was raped by a 65-year-old man in Nowshera. A little over a week before that, another eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Hazara Town, Quetta. These are only two of the many reported and unreported cases that are being mentioned here. The crime is so prevalent and underreported that dependable statistics do not exist.
The Anti-Rape Laws recently approved by the Senate are a commendable effort in the fight against rape, but this war is a long-drawn one. Besides the law, there must be country-wide awareness campaigns with respect to the prevalence of sexual abuse in general. Sexual violence is so prevalent that crimes of a sexual nature which may be less barbaric than rape are considered almost harmless. Awareness campaigns need to be initiated on television and in schools and children in particular must be trained to recognise any violation to their body. This fight is really against mindsets and remarks of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf about rape readily come to mind when he infamously said, “A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.” This was coming from the head of state and spoke volumes regarding where the societal consciousness stands on this front. Things do not change overnight and until there are focused and sustained efforts with respect to changing mindsets, our children will not get the security that they most certainly need.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2015.
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