Of the 383 sexual assault cases reported in hospitals across Karachi last year, FIRs were registered against only 27.67 per cent of the cases. This was revealed in a report released by War Against Rape (WAR).
The 2014 factsheet reveals that the three major hospitals of the city, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Civil Hospital, Karachi, and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital conducted 383 medico-legal examinations (MLEs) in sexual assault cases that include rape, gang-rape, sodomy and incest. The data for the same period collected from the 112 police stations in the city shows that only 106 FIRs were registered. The situation was almost the same in the previous year when only 109 FIRs were registered against 370 cases of sexual abuse, reported at hospitals.
For WAR programme officer Rukhsana Siddiqui, the bigger question was why the number of FIRs registered against these cases was lesser than the cases reported in hospitals. “We believe the reason why people don’t register FIRs is that they opt for out-of-court settlements. The other reason is that because of the attitude of the police personnel, victims of sexual assault don’t want to approach the police stations.”
Siddiqui added that there was often pressure from the perpetrator’s side and the families preferred to settle the matter between them, rather than take it to court.
Speaking about the most vulnerable areas, Siddiqui said that localities such as Gulberg were highly vulnerable as it was densely populated. The people lived in close proximity to one another, literacy levels were low and children were often found playing in the streets.
In the 45 cases investigated by WAR, it found that the age group most vulnerable to sexual assault was between five and 13 years. Around 22 percent of the cases were of rape, while an equal number were of gang-rape. Nineteen per cent of the cases were of sodomy, nine per cent each of attempted rape and rape with murder, and seven per cent were of incest.
The report also states that between 2005 and 2014, around 3,242 medical examinations for sexual assault cases were conducted in the three major public hospitals in Karachi. However, FIRs were registered in only 1,101 of the cases.
Four women raped every day
Four women were raped every day in the country throughout 2014, says WAR, accounting for the incidents taking place across Pakistan. Last year also witnessed a 49 per cent increase in the reporting of sexual assault cases as compared to 2013. A total of 1,582 cases were reported across the country in 2014 as compared to 772 in 2013. In 2014, 3,508 children were sexually abused while in 2013, the total number was 3,002.
Around 67 per cent of these cases were reported from rural areas while the most vulnerable age bracket was of children between 11 to 15 years of age.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.