Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Rape victims don’t lose honour, the rapists do! – Maleeha Hashmey

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It is not the one who is “wronged” who loses their honour, but the one who “wrongs” is the one who loses it forever! Every nook and corner of Pakistan observed pain, agony and grave disappointment since last Tuesday, when an innocent woman got gang-raped right in front of her children on the motorway.

As shocking as the news was, how Motorway Police denied her help right in the middle of the chaos (sheer negligence and insufficient staff deployment) and how Punjab Police reacted to the situation abruptly, exhibited total lack of empathy and was truly despicable.

Official negligence, incompetence and folly knows no bounds in Pakistan

The CCPO, Lahore, chose to lecture the affected woman on how she should have chosen another route (GT Road) and not Motorway and how she should not have embarked on a long journey alone, with her kids, somehow, making it look like the affected woman’s fault.

Read more: Death penalty for rape cases and the rule of law

This ill-chosen statement issued by the Capital City Police Officer, Lahore at an ill-chosen time gravitated the focus of the discussion from the “real issue” to CCPO’s folly, no matter how good his intentions may have been.

Four days down the line, twelve potential suspects got arrested and DNA profiling began. The first, strong suspect, who eventually turned out to be one of the culprits, Abid Ali, had only been released on bail only two weeks ago.

Human rights are applicable on humans. Does the one who mercilesly rapes and kills the vulnerable deserve to be called ‘human’?

The 27 years old, Abid Ali, had already been accused of eleven such individual and gang rape cases, already, and the fact that he did it again, in a much filthier manner, along with his partner, targeting the innocent woman, stuck on the Highway, right in front of her children, breaking the driver’s seat window with stones and sticks and dragging her and her children out mercilessly, only strengthened the public demand to hang the rapists publicly.

Last evening, as the news of the second culprit, Shafqat, having been arrested after his confession about being Abid’s partner in not only this particular case, but eleven other rape cases and multiple robbery cases, broke in, Punjab Police found out that there was a strong nexus between them and some politically influential people.

Read more: Public Hangings: Violation of Human Dignity

The same ironic observation was made when the little seven-year old Zainab was mercilessly tortured, raped and killed in Kasur, on January 4, 2018. I remember how some strong political figures belonging to the then ruling party were accused of being the saviors of the gang of rapists. The lack of motivation exhibited by the Police to pursue Zainab’s case further strengthened the suspicion.

No mercy for the one who rapes: Can a rapist even be called human? 

Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in his last night’s interview to one of the leading Pakistani Television Channels clearly stated, “Criminals like the ones who gang raped the innocent woman on the Highway should be ‘hanged publicly’. No mercy for the rapists”.

With the Premier’s bold and unambiguous take on the issue, the nationwide debate on whether hanging the rapists publicly is an idea violating the human rights or not was, to a great extent, put to rest. Not only his strong statement but also the historical reference of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq hanging a child rapist publicly, in Lahore, back in 1982, strengthened those who were in favour of the notion.

A complete behavioural overhaul based on a paradigm shift in the societal thought process is the need of the hour, where victim blaming or false pretense of being a victim, as observed in some recent cases, has no room

A simple question that one tends to ask those who believe that death penalty violates human rights of the criminals:

“Human rights are applicable on humans. Does the one who mercilessly rapes and kills the vulnerable deserve to be called ‘human’?”

Punishments coupled with a shift in societal thought to deter such crimes

There is no doubt about the fact that strong policing and prosecution with complete certainty of punishment where it is due and law and order being upheld at all times, at all costs, is the ultimate solution that any civilized society would like to pursue, however, keeping in view the carrot and stick mindset of the nation as a whole, it will not be wrong to state that unless there is a strong fear of being punished while the whole world gazes at its wrath & severity, crime rate is bound to rise exponentially, as is the case today.

Read more: The Motorway Incident: Horrific Enough to Compel a Permanent Solution?

Unless the whole network sponsoring, fostering and manipulating these impressionable minds in their teens and 20’s to their advantage, ruining millions of lives, is broken down, followed by thorough investigations leading to severe punishments as per Islamic law, things will stay the same.

Unless all Majeed Achakzai’s know that the man their car hits and tears down into pieces will not be responsible for “hurting” their car and that the powerful elite bows before the law, as do the poor, nothing will change.

The State needs to ensure that the educational institutions make it a point to start instilling this fundamental understanding in young minds of how women, children and the elderly are the “collective responsibility” of the State and the society, from the very start in their schools. A complete behavioural overhaul based on a paradigm shift in the societal thought process is the need of the hour, where victim-blaming or false pretense of being a victim, as observed in some recent cases, has no room.

Read more: Govt ready to present bill in parliament on castration of rapists: PM Imran Khan

Let’s teach our boys to respect, honour and protect every woman, the way girls are taught to “save” themselves. How about teaching our boys to make the vulnerable of the society feel “less vulnerable”, for a change?!

And last but not the least, it is not the one who is “wronged” who loses the honour, but the one “wrongs”. Here is to better times. Pakistan Zindabad!

Maleeha Hashmey is a prominent Vlogger, Columnist and Corporate Trainer, who has previously worked with United Nations. She can be reached through her Twitter handle:@maleehahashmey or by her email: MaleehaHashmi3@gmail.com. This article originally appeared at Islamabad Post and has been republished with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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