The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Ministry of Interior and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) after a petition to protect the identities of rape and sexual abuse victims was filed in the court.

Petitioners Sharafat Ali and Umar Sajid Chain, in their petition, told the court that in the wake of Zainab Ansari's rape and murder in Kasur last month, the identities of rape victims are being publicly disclosed.

"Disclosing the identities of rape victims on television channels and in newspapers is a violation of the law and is a punishable offence," the petitioner argued before the court.

The IHC's Justice Athar Minallah, after accepting the petition, issued notices to the Ministry of Interior and Pemra and set a 15-day deadline for them to submit their explanations in this regard.

Since the Zainab incident, there has been a marked increase in reporting of sexual abuse and rape cases involving minors in the media.

However, some sections of print and electronic media continue to disclose identities of the victims in sheer disregard of federal orders stipulated in Section 14 of the Ethical Code of Practice of the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance 2002.

“In the case of sexual offences and heinous crime against children, juveniles and women, names and identifying photographs shall not be published,” an excerpt from the section reads.

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