More than 14,000 rape cases were reported in Pakistan during the last four years, the Ministry of Human Rights told the National Assembly on Friday.
The ministry submitted a written reply during today's session in response to a query by PPP MNA Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro. The MNA had asked the ministry for a breakdown of harassment and rape cases in the country since 2018 as well as the steps the government had taken to combat this.
In its written reply, the ministry said that 16,153 cases of sexual violence against women and workplace harassment were reported during the last four years.
The document, based on the information received from the National Police Bureau, only accounts for the first six months of the current year (from January to June).
The ministry divided the crimes reported into two categories: sexual violence and workplace harassment. The former was further divided into four sub-categories: rape, gang-rape, custodial and incest.
Incidents under the category for workplace harassment were also separated according to them being physical, sexual and psychological in nature.
According to the breakdown provided by the ministry, 5,048 cases of sexual violence and workplace harassment were reported in 2018, 4,751 in 2019, 4,276 in 2020 and 2,078 in 2021.
The data shows that Punjab reported the highest number of overall cases in 2018 (3,496), followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1,164) and Sindh (328). There were 4,326 rape cases recorded during the year.
In 2019, Punjab again reported the highest number of cases (4,089), followed by Sindh (346) and KP (259). The year also saw 4,377 rape cases being reported.
A similar trend was also witnessed in 2020, with the highest number of cases again being reported from Punjab (3,250), followed by Sindh (386) and KP (299). Around 3,887 rape cases were also reported.
Meanwhile, the data until June 2021 shows that the most number of cases were reported in Punjab (1,687), followed by Sindh (226) and KP (125). No cases were reported in Gilgit-Baltistan while 1,886 rape cases were reported till June.
The ministry also highlighted the steps taken by the government to curb such incidents, stating that a project titled 'Human Rights Awareness Programme' had been launched to "create awareness among the public with a special focus on the rights of women and children".
The ministry said that it also regularly ogranises awareness programmes with exclusive sessions on women's rights and pro-women laws, adding that it was also operating a free helpline (1099) for legal advice regarding human rights violations.
The ministry noted that the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2021 had also been promulgated recently.
The ministry said it had launched a public awareness campaign on child abuse, while the Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat for Protection against Harassment of Women also runs print and electronic campaigns in order to reach victims of harassment.
"Moreover, field units of police are sensitised by the provincial/regional police offices to provide awareness regarding sexual harassment to the general public," the ministry said.