News Analysis |
According to local media reports, PML-N’s Attaur Rehman, Member of Punjab Assembly from PP-210, has been ‘sexually assaulting’ a student from Lahore for over 11 months. The reports also claim that the local police initially refused to file any complaint against the powerful accused. The victim is said to be a first-year student of MSCS at the National College of Business Administration & Economics (NCBAE) in Multan.
The student who relocated to Multan for studies over an year ago and has been working at Pakistan Human Development Foundation (PHDF) – a local NGO being run by the accused PML-N member – ever since. She tried to approach the police but authorities allegedly did not cooperate.
According to an application, the victim submitted her complaint to a local magistrate for her medical examination to prove that she was allegedly raped on multiple occasions by PML-N MPA Attaur Rehman, elected from PP-210 (Lodhran-IV) in the 2018 general elections.
Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace and Security index ─ among the five worst countries for women in the world.
Around 11 months back, PML-N’s Rehman allegedly raped the victim after taking her to an undisclosed location in guise of office work. According to the victim, he also filmed her ordeal using his mobile phone and threatened her of dire consequences if she refused to maintain silence over the incident. He repeatedly threatened her and demanded sexual favors.
Media reports claim that after 11 months of pain she eventually felt sick after the PML-N leader sodomized her due to which she had to be admitted to a hospital.
The victim also attached medical records of hospital and WhatsApp messages sent to her by the accused as evidence with her application presented before the local magistrate.
PML-N, under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz, who is seen vocal on many political issues these days, is yet to take any action against the lawmaker. Reliable sources told GVS that the PML-N leadership is not aware of the incident and the lawmaker is trying to suppress the victim in order to not get exposed. It has also been learnt that local police are not ready to take any action against the accused.
Violence Against Women in Pakistan
In Pakistan, women are generally kept away from the public sphere and have to face domestic violence and psychological torture on a daily basis. It is believed that without developing favorable social settings, the idea of political empowerment for women shall remain highly contested.
Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace and Security index ─ among the five worst countries for women in the world. According to 2016 data, 26.8 percent of Pakistani women said they have experienced intimate partner violence. According report of the Aurat Foundation stated that Pakistan is a country where almost 70% of women were victims of domestic violence, at least once in their lives. This violence is generally committed by their intimate partners-husbands. These figures, however, do not include psychological violence, which is even more common in urban communities.
One in every three women in Punjab aged between 15 and 64 years has suffered violence, according to a survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The survey funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was the first of its kind in Pakistan in collaboration with the Bureau of Statistics and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.
If a girl, for example, refuses a marriage proposal of a man or any other demand for any stated or unstated reasons she, by doing so, insults the man and hurts his ego.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has passed several laws to protect women across the country. But data shows that the cases are increasing with the passage of time despite the presence of a legal mechanism of protection. Experts now suggest looking into Pakistan’s social order and evaluating if it welcomes any law which heavily negatives some social values and cultural beliefs.
Laws to Protect Women
Although in the province of Punjab a law, ‘The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2015’, has been passed yet there are numerous cases of violence against women in the province. According to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, this put the number of honor killings between June 2017 and August 2018 at 737. The total number of such murders since the organization started keeping records in 2016 stands at 15,222. Honor killing has become almost a norm in many parts of Pakistan where women are treated as a commodity and whose sole responsibility is to be submissive guardians of men’s honor and ego.
Experts and researchers suggest that in Pakistan’s social setting, like many other developing polities, there is a complex and rigid concept of power. Violence against women, like rape, is a demonstration of power and strength. It should, therefore, be understood from a sociological perspective which helps understanding the context in which these incidents take place. If a girl, for example, refuses a marriage proposal of a man or any other demand for any stated or unstated reasons she, by doing so, insults the man and hurts his ego. Such trends need to be challenged and immediately countered.