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Victim of an unjust society

Updated Sep 14, 2013 10:15am


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Bangladeshi girls hold placards as they stand to form a human chain to protest against the recent gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. An Indian magistrate ruled Monday that the media will not be allowed to attend pre-trial hearings or the trial of the five men accused of raping and killing a young student in the Indian capital, a police official said. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Bangladeshi girls hold placards as they stand to form a human chain to protest against the recent gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. An Indian magistrate ruled Monday that the media will not be allowed to attend pre-trial hearings or the trial of the five men accused of raping and killing a young student in the Indian capital, a police official said. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

LAHORE, Sept 13: The horrific case of a five-year old girl, who was gang-raped and then mercilessly left outside Ganga Ram Hospital, has left many shaken and disgusted.

The fact that there is a complete lack of a system of law and order in the country hits people each time such an incident occurs. To make matters worse, the public seems to dwell in its insensitivity and a state of denial, never raising any cries against the crimes.

“We may try to hide or justify all these incidents but the fact is that rape does exist and it will be better for us as a society if we recognise it and try to work from there,” says Irfan Mufti, deputy director of the South Asia Partnership, an NGO that tries to raise awareness about gender equality among other issues especially at the grass-root level.

“The problem in Pakistan is that we have no judicial system, we have no social system that can help avoid such crimes in future or help give penalty to the perpetrators for an incident,” he deplores.

Mufti also says a lack of awareness and care that parents have towards their children is appalling, where small children are left alone by their parents and are easily susceptible to crimes.

Diep Syeda, a social activist, views the situation as extremely unfortunate and compares it to the level of protest that took place in India after the infamous Delhi rape case.

“Not that any country in South Asia is any different but what happened at such a mass scale in Delhi shows that the civil society was still alive there. They came out despite circumstances, protested and put the government under real pressure,” she says. “Here, today the media acknowledges it but tomorrow all will be forgotten.”

She says it has more or less become fashionable only to discuss such issues but when it comes to taking to the street, people retreat in fear of embarrassment. Sumera Salim, Senior Capacity Building Officer of Aurat Foundation’s Gender Equity programme, proclaims that capital punishment would be a small penalty to pay for such offenders.

“We have discovered that for some reason these rape cases are more frequent in Punjab,” she says. “This is surprising because there is no lack of education as such but I do blame that poverty and unemployment may have a role to play.”

But Pakistan Criminologists chairman Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat refutes this suggestion saying rapists and sexual abusers are essentially “sick in the head”.

“They cannot be termed normal by any standards even of the direct reasons of a rape incident lie in family feuds, or some other causes. In fact we have done a study where many times fake pirs have encouraged men to get physical with young girls (underage) so that they may overcome their sexual weaknesses. These men never rape their own family members so they are clever enough to select their victims, too.”

Dr Burfat says Pakistan was going through an intense period of social disorganisation where the social system had ‘collapsed’ and all the institutions such as family, religion, and even police, which kept people’s behaviour in check to a large extent, had more or less collapsed. The unfortunate part was that there has been no alternate social organisation which could replace this collapse. There was only a void.

“The media has crossed all ethical boundaries and has been airing the details about the girl without realising the shame and the hurt that her family can face as a result. The media should realise that it can talk about the criminals but not about the victims in such detail.

“As for India, the civil society there is organised because they have a more collective nationalistic spirit. We, on the other hand, have divided ourselves into communities and groups. We do not fight for the same cause, even if that cause is to stand up for a minor child.”

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Comments (20) Closed

Rehan Sep 14, 2013 04:09pm

you are right we are a dead society .. its officialy declared now

S. A. M. Sep 14, 2013 04:41pm

I think media is doing what it is supposed to do. The more details people get of the tragic and barbaric incident the more protective they will be of their young ones. No society can say it is free from such crack pots and Pakistan is also not an exception but the punishment should be given to the criminals such that it acts as a big deterrence on many that may have a tendency to conduct sexual assault on girls/kids. BUT I would say that being a parent is a very tough job gone are the days that you could let your children play in the parks or streets without any supervision. The problem is that these days parents cannot trust the uncles, teachers, Molvis, elder cousins. It is entirely upon parents to keep a continued vigil. Even in the school a close contact with the teachers will give the impression that the parents are very concerned for the safety of their children and that will have a psychological impact on the teacher that could be unjust with the child. I had read a very useful book that was parents to teach their kids that it is alright to say no to the unwanted or unusual advancements of strangers/elders etc. It gave very useful tips and one was to shout and run for help from the scene. May Allah protect all kids.

ailly Sep 14, 2013 04:45pm

we must abide by Islamic laws and the consequential punishments which can remove such ills from the society.... God is calling us to amend our path and move ahead in straight line. Even a badly managed secular govt in India has ordered hanging for rapists. What are we waiting for ?.
our nation is sleeping whereas Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans are vociferous on this issue. wake up before its too late. such criminals must be hanged in public nothing less.

Muhammad Ahsan Khan Sep 14, 2013 07:31pm

Suman Khan Sep 14, 2013 07:45pm

Imposition of strict Sharia law is the only answer to all of Pakistan ills.

fahadahmed Sep 15, 2013 01:57am

What Does Islam Say About Rape? In Islam, what is the law and the punishment for committing rape? Answer: Rape is completely forbidden in Islam, and is a crime punishable by death.

In Islam, capital punishment is reserved for the most extreme crimes which harm individual victims or destablize society. Rape falls into both of these categories.

Islam takes very seriously the honor and protection of women. The Quran repeatedly reminds men to treat women with kindness and fairness. Rape is a horrible crime which causes a women humiliation and physical harm.

Some people seem to confuse Islamic law by equating rape to sex outside of marriage (adultery or fornication). However, throughout Islamic history there have been scholars who classified rape as a form of terrorism (hiraba). There have also been specific examples in Islamic history which can shed light on how early Muslims handled this crime and its punishment.

Roxana Sep 15, 2013 02:05am

Rape happens everywhere to every kind of victim, sadly. The fact is that rapists are criminals who need to be taken out of society because they are dangerous. Rape is the shame of the rapist, not the victim, who has no choice in the matter. The victim may be a boy, a girl, a baby, a wife, or anyone at all. Until people unite and stand up against rapists and support the victims properly as victims, there will be no positive change in this criminal segment. Never, ever blame the victim. If you do, you do not at all understand the crime.

arman Sep 15, 2013 02:41am

The only way we can send a message to the criminals is to make it a death penalty for rapist and as brutal as it may sound let the hanging be telecast so that whole nation can witness it and be warned that our daughters will not be put through such heinous crime.

arman Sep 15, 2013 02:50am

as long as we as a nation look the other way, rapist will run free and the world will look down upon us as if this nation of Islamic Republic of Pakistan one can get away with murder at a price or allows its daughter to get raped and no one will raise a voice. This is one more behavior that sets us apart from a concientious civilized society.

Riaz Khan Sep 15, 2013 02:55am

Remember folks, Mukhtar Mai's rapists got off with a light sentence. When it comes to crimes against women, we are a spineless society.

Qaiser Bakhtiari Sep 15, 2013 03:02am

Unfortunately our is a society that blames the victim and not the perpetrators. Jamat-e-Islamis chief himself urged the rape victims to stay quiet in an interview. Pakistani society does not condone sexual misconduct by men the way a just society does and you can not blame India, US or Israel for this.

A Hindu Sep 15, 2013 07:01am

In Muslim societies , A woman is degraded continuously , everywhere and all the time in the name of Islam. Pakistanis ( Indians too ) have to know that a woman is the mother of the man.

Ebrahim Sep 15, 2013 07:47am

Rape or killing (shahzeb murder) there is no accountability or punishment, justice is depending on the influence the culprit has. The rape of this 5 year old girl will be forgotten unless the parents has proper backing.

humanity_crying Sep 15, 2013 09:53am

Never knew it that people in Pakistan are so insensitive that they don't even feel like raising voice for a 5 year old kid who needs them.

Akram Sep 15, 2013 02:22pm

The Doctor is wrong, there is no civil society in India either. It is just as self serving as Pakistans and infinetly more corrupt (yes it is possible). I would suggest you listen to the voice of Arundhati Roy on this issue.

The reason why so much commotion happened in india over the death of the rape victim, was not the rape. It was the fact that it was committed by the lower classes on a middle class girl. Given the class and strata differences in Indian society you may begin to understand the line that was crossed by the rapists in that case. A rape is a regular occurrence in India, how come they are not on the streets everyday?

unfortunately its no long term solution, other than having an effective police & judicial system.

butseriouslyok Sep 15, 2013 03:48pm

@Akram: Even if you were remotely correct, if you really care about progressing in a positive way, you would make use of what happened in New Delhi in terms of mass protest and try and influence your own community, country and universe. No point pointing out negatives and not making any positive suggestion.

India has many problems, some of which are worse than Pakistan's (it has 6 times the population)...but it is the directions which both the countries are moving in that matters today. Pakistan must reverse as soon as possible. India should maintain course and keep trying hard to surmount its own problems. What is good for India is also good for Pakistan and rest of the world and of course "vice versa". We are all in it together.

indian Sep 15, 2013 05:49pm

@Akram: who gave you the right to think that Aundhiti represents India???

An Indian Sep 15, 2013 07:05pm

You need to stand up for Malala first. There's nothing more horrific than terrorizing your girl child.

ApacheIndian Sep 15, 2013 10:25pm

@butseriouslyok: Rightly said!

Zid Sep 16, 2013 12:17am

All those responsible for such heinous crimes should be hanged in public after fair trial, within minimum possible time. Justice delayed is justice denied. Moreover, legal support has been offered to victim's family as well as financial reward to those, who will help in identifying the culprits. Although not much is commented in newspapers but there is extreme resentment against this unfortunate incident, as is evident from media.