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Statutory rape on the rise in Pakistan

Sexual harassment is not unusual in Pakistan, however, rising trend of the monstrous crime ‘rape’—especially rape of minors—is alarming and needs immediate attention of the government and a deterrent punishment.

In a recent heart-rendering incident, an eight-year-old girl was reportedly sexually abused by a 65-year-old man in Akora Khattak, an area in Nowshehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to media reports, the minor girl was playing outside her house when a man, identified as Muhammad Arshid, took her to his guest house and raped her on Friday. Police on complaint raided the house of Arshid and arrested him and later confessed the crime. This is the fresh incident of statutory rape in which a minor girl fell prey to pedophilia. The black-hearted man just to satisfy his concupiscence, ruined the life of the girl by his evil act.  This is disgusting!

Defining Rape

Section 375 and 376 of Pakistan Penal Code defines rape as

A man is said to have committed rape, when he has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions,
(i)against her will.

(ii)without her consent

(iii)with her consent, when the consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt,

(iv)with her consent, when the man knows that he is not married to her and that the consent is given because she believes that the man is another person to whom she is or believes herself to be married; or

(v)With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.

Worrisome rising statistics

Due to poor implementation of law, zero conviction, a faulty and delayed justice system, sexual frustration and other reasons, rape cases of minors are increasing with an alarming trend. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an incident of rape occurs every two hours in the country. Take a look at these horrible examples:

  • On February 3, a one-and-a-half year old girl was raped and strangled to death in Nazimabad, Karachi.
  • On November 7, 2014, a six-year-old Hazara girl was raped and murdered in Quetta.
  • In November 2014, a five-year-old girl was allegedly raped at a high school in Lahore.
  • In Sept 2013, a five-year-old girl was repeatedly raped and thrown outside the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Lahore.

These are a few examples of rape. Many other cases of rape in the country go unreported due to fear of killing, losing honor as well as other reasons.

Zero conviction

The Sughra Imam Report, which was recently presented before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice revealed that there has been a zero conviction rate for rape in the past five years and the main reason behind this is the constitutional provision on defective investigation which requires the identity of the rape victim to be revealed.

Horrors of rape

Experts say that sexual assault or rape on a child results in lifelong physical and psychological aftermaths including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning problems at school, destructive behavior, loss of self confidence, nightmares, sleep disorder, neurosis, etc. The raped becomes a victim of male phobia, loses trust on the male gender and develops insecure feelings. Sometimes they live in isolation and in severe cases, even commit suicide.

Rigorous punishment a must for rapists

In order to put a full stop to the shameful crime, the government needs to take serious steps and law-enforcers need to implement the law in its true letter and spirit.

Under Pakistan Penal Code section 376:

“Whosoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall be not less than 10 years or more, than 25 years and shall also be liable to fine.” However, the Hadood Ordinance states that “whoever is guilty of Zina liable to hadd shall, subject to the provisions of this Ordinance:”

(a) If he or she is a muhsan (i.e. an adult, free, Muslim who has previously enjoyed legitimate sexual relations in matrimony regardless of whether the marriage still exists), be stoned to death at a public place; or

(b) If he or she is not muhsan, be punished, at a public place; with whipping numbering one hundred stripes.

To counter rape cases, rapists should be whipped and stoned to death in public so that no one in the future, dares to commit this heinous crime.

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