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Who’s to blame? Sexual violence & our reactions

By Maryam Tiwana

What drives an individual to rape or sexually assault somebody? Is it merely due to the “provocative” clothing of the victim or an idea that she was “asking for it”? Unfortunately rape and sexual violence are big problems of our society today.  According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) an incident of rape occurs every two hours. It is due to the incompetence and laid back attitude of law enforcement agencies in our country and our silence that these rapists are free and go unpunished for their heinous crimes.

Kainat Soomro was a 13 year old girl who was kidnapped and gang raped for 4 days. She raised her voice against her perpetrators and protested against this injustice. Her protest was only met by the murder of her brother, a death sentence from her village’s elders and threats from her rapists. As a result her rapists still remain at large after 4 years. Was it not the duty of Pakistani law enforcement agencies and institutions to seek justice for this girl and punish her perpetrators? Instead her rapists are allowed to run free and continue to live their lives without facing any consequences for their actions. I believe that there should be a “Rule of Law” in our society not a “Might is Right Law” but apparently the law is only incumbent on whoever the ruling class sees it convenient to be incumbent upon.

It is very rare for a rape victim to actually report the crime and speak up against the injustice inflicted on them. Most of the time they themselves don’t say anything due to the fear of being scrutinized by the police and other agencies or having stigmas attached to themselves or their families make them silent and tell them never to speak about what has happened. Most of the time when rape cases are taken to court and the rapists are put on trial, the defense lawyers use the victim’s past as a means to dishonor them or completely degrade the victim’s character and insinuate that the victim is to blame for their own rape. Other than this, the victim and their family is harassed and taunted for no fault of their own but merely the fact that some sick individuals of our society decided they could violate and vandalize another’s body and being. That is what rape is, a violation of an individual’s body and entire being and NO ONE has the right to do this.

It is easy to put the blame on others and whine about the lack of justice delivered in our country but as citizens of this country it is also each one of our duty to stand up and raise our voices against such crimes. If we want our society to be rid of such ills we must take it upon ourselves to make this happen. Why are citizens of this country so fearful and reluctant to report crimes and injustices? The answer lies within each of us Pakistanis. We must unite against these injustices and curtail them. Our voices are a tool which we must use. What is the purpose of our voices if we cannot use them to protect and defend fellow Pakistanis who are being suppressed and victimized everyday. What does it mean to be a Pakistani? We must ask ourselves this question. If our country and its people are bleeding we must not ignore the cries of the victims around us, we must stop turning a blind eye towards all the injustice that is carried out around us. We are in the midst of injustice and if we cannot build the courage to stand up against it then we also should not expect our society to magically turn into a utopia of some kind. Yes we should acknowledge the ills of our society but we should also do something about them.

Law enforcement agencies should be made accountable for not seeking justice for billions of Pakistanis. The statistics mentioned earlier are only a small number of reported rapes however it is safe to say that thousands of cases go unreported and thus the rapists don’t ever face the consequences.  Pakistan was built upon the promise of a land of tolerance and freedom not one of suppression and injustice which is what Pakistan has come to today. We must raise our voices against sexual abuse, we must make the responsible agencies fulfill their role in seeking justice and must demand justice. By merely acknowledging a problem we are not countering it.  If you don’t want to live in such a world then do something about it don’t just sit and back and complain while lives are being destroyed everyday, its time each of us raises our voices.

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