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Today's Paper | January 17, 2022

Updated 05 Nov, 2021 09:01am

Supreme Court calls for steps to curb sexual offences against children

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has stressed the need for curbing sexual offences against children, especially girls, with an iron hand since such cases are rising steadily.

“A rape victim stands on a higher pedestal than an injured witness, for an injured witness gets the injury on the physical form while a rape victim suffers psychologically and emotionally,” observed Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi in a judgement delivered on Thursday.

Justice Naqvi was a member of a two-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, which heard an appeal by a rape accused who challenged a ruling of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) upholding his conviction.

The trial court had sentenced the petitioner to five years’ rigorous imprisonment (RI), with a fine of Rs500,000, under Section 377-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for raping a seven-year-old girl last year.

He was also awarded two years RI under Section 354 for stripping the child.

Says such cases rising steadily

The girl’s mother had lodged the FIR of the incident at a police station in Noshki, Balochistan, on March 27 last year. She stated that she had sent her daughter to a grocery to fetch a matchbox, but got worried when the child did not return after some time.

She stepped out of her house to look for the girl, but could not find her.

Out of desperation, the woman started knocking at her neighbours’ doors and got the shock of her life after finding the girl in a state of undress at one of the homes.

The girl told her mother that Zahid, the neighbour, had assaulted her and that he had done so previously too.

The petitioner was investigated at length and found guilty, the bench observed, adding that the trial court had convicted the petitioner after taking into consideration all the facts and evidence placed before it.

The apex court noted that the victim had recounted her ordeal in a “very mature and natural manner”, touching upon all aspects “without any disconnect”.

Although the victim was of a tender age, her statement depicts “maturity of the highest level”, the bench noted.

The girl was cross-examined at length, but her statement remained consistent and spontaneous, the judges said in praise of the seven-year-old child.

In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court had categorically held that there was seldom any witness in a rape case since such acts were usually committed in private.

The courts do not insist upon producing direct evidence to corroborate the testimony of a rape victim if it is found to be lucid and coherent, delivered with poise and confidence, the bench stated.

It dismissed an insinuation by the convict that the woman had framed him because he used to admonish her for meeting ‘strangers’ in the absence of her husband, who was abroad.

“Suffice it is to say that no one would defame her minor daughter only on some minor quarrel because the honour of a daughter is always precious for a mother to take revenge on a trifle issue,” the bench observed.

The statement by Zahid, the convict, seems to be a story concocted to save his skin, the judgement said.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2021

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