KARACHI: The outgoing year of 2022 left painful and ugly scars on the face of Karachi when it comes to the violent crime of rape as over 500 women and girls were subjected to sexual assault in the last 12 months, it emerged on Friday.

The shocking figures were compiled with the help of record of medico-legal officers posted at the three major hospitals of the metropolis — the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH).

The data, maintained by Police Surgeon Office, Karachi, showed an extraordinary increase in rape and murder cases in Karachi. Also, incidents of shooting people over resistance during mugging incidents showed an upward trend.

Speaking to Dawn, Police Surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said that 513 women were sexually assaulted while 3,649 women became victim of domestic violence, who had been brought to the hospitals for medical examination.

Commenting on the official figure of rape cases, lawyer and rights activist Maliha Zia Lari believed that the actual figure might be higher than the reported one.

3,649 women fell victim to domestic violence in 2022

“Good thing is that under relevant anti-rape law, so far 27 gender-based violence courts have been established in Sindh,” she told Dawn.

Ms Lari, who is associate director of the Legal Aid Society, said that a recent survey conducted by her organisation suggests conviction ratio of the gender-based violence courts was over 11 per cent. It also showed that only 14pc people in Sindh were ‘satisfied’ with performance of these courts.

“We see that the response is improving but there is a need to focus on prevention,” she said.

Over 1,290 people killed in city

The police surgeon said that a total of 1,291 bodies of people killed because of various motives were brought to the three major hospitals of the city.

She added that the total number of post-mortem examinations conducted was a ‘misleading’ figure for actual deaths occurring due to various causes, as the relatives/people generally did not allow autopsy and preferred to take away the body without completion of medico legal formalities.

Giving details of the three hospitals data, the police surgeon said a total of 12,511 miscellaneous medico-legal cases were brought to the JPMC till Dec 29.

A total of 267 female sexual assault cases and 1,938 female physical assault/domestic violence cases were also brought to the same hospital. As many as 540 bodies were brought for autopsy to the JPMC.

Regarding Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, she said that a total of 10,951 miscellaneous medico-legal cases were brought to the tertiary-care hospital.

A total of 145 female sexual assault cases and 1,318 female physical assault/domestic violence cases were reported at the ASH till Dec 29.

Doctors at the hospital conducted autopsies on 554 bodies brought from different areas.

At the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, the MLOs (medico-legal officials) dealt with 6,787 medico-legal cases, she added. Out of them 101 pertained to rape of women and 393 were domestic violence cases.

A total of 197 bodies were brought to the hospital for post-mortem examination while 10 bodies were exhumed on directions/orders of the courts concerned.

Dr Syed said that this was also very common situation in road accidents and more importantly, in sudden suspicious deaths as the attendants/heirs did not allow the doctors to fulfil legal formalities of conducting post-mortem examination.

Coining a new term Surkh Kafan, or red shroud, she said: “One occurrence that I followed this year was cases of suicide by girls after three to six months of marriage. However, eight such cases turned out to be murder/homicide,” said the police surgeon.

“We are trying to improve our data collection mechanism and shall now be opening up a research wing at the Police Surgeon Office Karachi,” said Dr Syed.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2022

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