LAHORE: “In the past 11 months, around 862 women have been murdered while 2,864 have been raped,” said Additional IG Investigation Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh while speaking at a seminar organised by a non-government organisation on Thursday.
He said it was very important to highlight these cases but it was equally important to verify the cases as sometimes the law got misused and the cases got undue hype.
“There are plenty of laws and their implementation is also important,” he said.
“Civil society organisations should also help the real victims.”
Mr Bakhsh quoted the case of one Sughra Bibi who was misjudged as an accused and after she got released from jail two years later, she fought the case for her name to be cleared and ultimately it was discovered that she was innocent. He said there were many such cases which should have received attention.
AIG Gender Crimes’ Cell Shahid Siddique suggested a review of the existing laws instead of making or framing new ones.
“The simple existence of laws cannot raise the conviction rate but the immediate implementation of punishment is what we need,” he suggested and added that there should be implementation of laws on domestic slavery.
He said Punjab police were being improved quickly with induction of more educated staff. He said regarding the rape cases it had been already ordered that evidence and investigation must be done under an officer no less than the rank of an SP.
Hafsa Sajjad from the UN Women said her organisation was focusing a lot on girls’ rights.
Regarding the global 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV), they were also focusing on the #HearMeToo.
“The behaviour of society is not very positive towards a survivor of violence which needs to be dealt with.” She said the youth must be educated about these issues.
Meanwhile, the Mumkin Alliance shared the current situation of violence against women/girls in Punjab in a roundtable discussion held today in which renowned parliamentarians, representatives of civil society organizations and relevant government departments took part. The discussion also revolved around finding out the gaps in legislation and implementation and extracting the recommendations to improve the safety system for women protection.
Mumtaz Mughal, resident director Punjab, Aurat Foundation, referred to the Police Investigating Branch report and said 151 women were victimised in gang rapes from September 2017 to September 2018 in Punjab which was very alarming. Honour killing, domestic violence, early and forced marriages, kidnapping and other crimes were reported but mental and physiological violence was still unreported.
Last year (2017), 181 women were murdered for honour killing in Punjab.
“There is a need of strong coordination between the crisis centre and local government,” Ms Mughal said.
“The word ‘Panchayat’ should be removed from the local government ordinance. The girls, staying in the crisis centre should be connected with financial facilities,” she added.
PML-N MPA Bushra Anjum Butt and PTI MNA and Anila Beg demanded the present government take the previous government initiatives forward for improving the system. Sensitisation of the children must begin early.
The discussion demanded the government allocate sufficient financial and adequate human resources to ensure smooth provision of justice. The government should also ensure the access of grassroots women/girls to the state-funded legal-aid programmes, it demanded and recommended that there should be an accountability mechanism to ensure proper implementation of pro-women legislation.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018