It is the State’s duty to protect its women, says Sherry Rehman



Islamabad: Sept 11 – Commenting on the heinous gang rape incident on Motorway, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “The gang rape incident on the Ring Road has brought to the fore many troubling details of failure by law enforcers but a disturbing faultline of shocking prejudice in high places to the surface.”

“The first issue is why the police were so egregiously late in responding to an emergency call. Despite the woman calling the emergency number 130 and giving them her location. Why did it take so long for them to respond? After changing 5-6 IGs what was the explanation by the Punjab police? Why were the squabbling over jurisdiction even when the serious and heinous nature of the crime was exposed?” she questioned.

She said, “The other issue that needs addressing is how the victim is being shamed by Government officials as having been lax in her own security by venturing out unescorted on a public highway or to have run out of petrol? This is a shocking reminder of the deep vein of misogyny that runs through some of our public officials, and it enhances a woman’s insecurity on the streets of Pakistan as opposed to giving them succour or protection. What is the job of the police? Not to become guardians of public morality but to protect the right of all citizens to safely use public facilities like the motorway. It is time our public servants were reminded that their jobs and salaries are maintained by the taxes paid by the ordinary people of Pakistan, and their cavalier responses are completely unacceptable. The police officials who have shifted the burden on the victim better apologise to her and her family, while Government ministers who should know better need to stop protecting anti-women statements”.

“Pakistan ranked 6th on the list of the most dangerous countries for women in 2019. It is the state’s duty and responsibility to provide protection to its citizens. Instead, the CCPO is schooling women on which route to take or what time to go out,” she added.

Addressing a minister’s comment, she said, “He’s saying that the CCPO hasn’t broken any laws so we can’t do much. A person who has been appointed to protect the citizens is clearly telling women that this country is not safe for them is not enough for the government to take action?”

Commenting on the alarming rise in rape cases, the Senator said, “Rape is a very serious crime in any state. But all across the spectrum, with social and public attitudes like the one we are witnessing from key ministers, all forms of violence and abuse against women is on the rise. With no accurate data, the most-cited estimate ranges between 70 to 90% of Pakistani women experiencing some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse”.

She said, “Minors are also being targeted by paedophiles in playgrounds, streets, markets and shops in congested localities. We are still to see any results over the Kasur incident. What is taking so long?”

“Why is that every time a heinous act like this happens, the identity of the survivor/victim is not protected? Is there no code of ethics? Why is the survivor’s information leaked out?” she said while emphasizing on the role of a responsible reporting.

Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by asking for a proper inquiry into failure and conduct of police and said, “Penalties should not breed more public violence or brutalise society or even encourage people to start taking the law into their hands. Public hanging of rapists is not going to miraculously solve the problem. It may in fact, encourage social norms of private and public brutality. Misogynistic behaviour is a deep-rooted issue which needs to be addressed. What is needed is strict implementation of laws such as life sentencing and rigorous imprisonment of such criminals as most of them criminals escape because of poor investigation by police and then flawed prosecution”.