Cases of sexual assault on minors have increased in the country during the recent months. During the month of September alone, a number of such cases were registered, however, there are many cases which were not reported because of the fear of a backlash from powerful persons and the police, also some of the cases are buried in the deep for the sake of the family’s honour.
One terrible and unique thing in the country is that women are not secure even in the hands of security providers like their parents, relatives, siblings, police, politicians and the military. Instead of justice they are threatened with death. The religious leaders, instead of fighting to eradicate such crimes against women are suggesting that even minor girls must wear veils in order to avoid sexual assaults.
Recently the assault of two minor girls was registered, one in Multan and other one in Lahore, Punjab province. A seminarian who teaches the Quran to children tried to molest a three-year-old girl; the cleric drugged the girl and took her to a nearby graveyard where he dug a hole for her. A grave digger saw the cleric taking his clothes off and when he approached he saw the child. The grave digger tried to grab the cleric and shouted for help. He later told the police that the cleric initially tried to undress but on seeing some other men approach, he left his clothes behind and fled. The girl was taken to Nishtar Hospital emergency where she was later said to be out of danger.
This case happened just a few days after a five-year-old girl was raped and dumped, unconscious, outside a hospital in Lahore. The girl was abducted and assaulted by “unknown accused” and following the attack she was thrown outside the Ganga Ram hospital. As usual the police are busy doing a traditional probe. This case was highlighted by the civil society and media who stood for justice for the little victim. After the passing of more than a month the police have failed to arrest the accused despite of the footage from several CCTV cameras at the hospital.
Another case was reported on September 17 in Daily “The News” that a minor girl aged six, the daughter of a poor bricklayer was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man who succeeded in fleeing the scene, leaving behind the unconscious minor. Yet another case concerning a minor happened in Kasur district of Punjab where a six-year-old girl was raped. The police are conducting an investigation but, as is usual they have yet to arrest anyone.
Apart from minors women remain vulnerable to abduction and sexual assault and the rapists find impunity through both common and Shariah laws. One such case was reported by the Asian Human Rights Commission regarding the gang rape of a Thari minority woman in Sindh Province who was raped in front of her family. In this case a political party leader has sided with the culprits. In another case a mother of three, Ms. Yasmin, was abducted by a gang and raped, also in Sindh province.
In Peshawar, KPK province two sisters were kidnapped and held captive in a house where they were repeatedly raped for five days in Hayatabad. Later they were thrown unconscious on the road side.
In another case a police officer (SI) with the help of his wife kidnapped an 18 year old woman and raped her and then declared her his second wife after having an illegal marriage. According to a report additional Sessions Judge ,Tariq Javed ordered the Sadr SHO to register a case against SI Khalid Mehmood Ghumman, currently posted at Satellite Town Police Station, and his wife Sakeena Bibi on abduction and rape charges.
Bushra Bibi, the mother of the girl, alleged that the accused couple came to her house on June 22 and took her 18-year-old daughter Sadia with them for shopping but she did not return. When she made inquiries the accused SI and his wife threatened to kill her, she added. Later, Bushra Bibi said that her daughter Sadia told her the accused policeman had raped her and prepared fake marriage documents. The accused policeman had contracted several marriages and was also involved in the murder of one of his wives. The police are investigating.
A girl was raped in Hafizabad by a man who called the girl to his house under the guise of offering her employment. However, after she entered the house of the accused he raped her and escaped from the place of the incident.
The above cases are merely an example of some of the reported cases and as mentioned above not all incidents of rape are investigated due to the embarrassment and trauma of the victims and their families. It is a shameful state of affairs where the rapists are not just common people but also members of the law enforcement agencies, parents, siblings, relatives, politicians as well as religious teachers.
Many cases were not registered because of the lack of justice and rule of law. Influential persons behind the cases allow them to fail. Law enforcement agencies give and take bribes and the victims do not get justice. As a result the offenders move about freely. The police traditional behaviour of showing no interest in these cases and security for the victims means that many women do not make reports out of fear. They are also afraid to report rape for fear of becoming victims of honour killings.
Pakistan has become an insecure state for women and girls. Our religious leaders also have a negative role in rape cases in that they believe women are responsible for the crime committed against them. Instead of criticizing and taking serious steps against the perpetrators they suggest parents to cover even their minor girls with veils. Their constant explanation for these crimes is the lack of dress codes. Shariah law is followed in these cases and the results of DNA tests are considered as secondary evidence.
The sudden increase of sexual assaults of minor girls is condemnable. It is shocking that a society that refers to itself as ‘Islamic’ has not developed any mechanism to control this heinous crime. It is becoming increasingly apparent that all the Islamic teachings have failed as the bigots and false teachers are more interested in furthering their own ends than protecting the society.
The unethical behaviour towards women is deeply ingrained in the male dominated soil of the country. According to the Constitution of Pakistan women will not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex but this is only a law restricted to the books. Due to the apathy of the government and law enforcement agencies a large number of women become victims of violence each day.
The so-called Islamic society is engulfed in its own contradiction in that Islam is supposed to provide protection to women, however, the very opposite is the case as it is the religious leaders that offer protection to the perpetrators by the application of Shariah laws and all the time, society remains silent.