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Motorway Gang Rape: About Time Pakistan Established A Sex Offenders Database

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The recent gang rape of a woman on the motorway in Gujjarpur area of Lahore is sending shock waves through our spines. The woman’s car ran out of fuel and there was no petrol pump or any car repair shop nearby. She got scared and worried for herself and her children too. In the middle of nowhere she was attacked by unknown assailants who injured her and dragged her out of the car and took her to the nearby fields. In the open fields, the two men raped her in front of her children.

The incident took place between 12:30 AM to 1:00 AM but the police arrived around 4 AM. When the help arrived much later after the horrific rape and physical assault, the victim and her traumatised children were guarded by the police. But the most disturbing aspect of the whole crime is that when they finally arrived there was confusion about the area of jurisdiction where the crime will actually have been reported in an FIR.

During the course of the  investigation, it was identified that both the Ring Road police and the Motorway police could have arrived at the crime scene within 10 minutes as they were both not that far away from the crime scene logistically. Now here, we point out a very significant loophole in procedures, protocols of performing the required duties necessary to protect the victims and simultaneously start the investigative process.

When the emergency call was made, the answering team should have started their process with immediate effect. It’s a matter of someone life and death. They can re-visit the tweaks in their protocols later but at that particular moment when the emergency was reported, they shouldn’t have wasted another passing second to do the needful. If only one of the police segments: either Ring Road police or the Motorway police had responded to the call immediately, this horrific gang-rape, physical assault on that woman, her innocent children to have witnessed the worst possible nightmare of their lives, looting of money and breakage of the car could have been avoided.

Finally, when the police arrived and the woman and her children were guarded, she was going through a horrific PTSD when she begged the police to kill her. Not only was this poor woman’s body brutally violated but also her poor children have gone through such a brutal trauma themselves when they witnessed this act.  She has endured physical assault as well as psychological assault. Therefore, she needs a very extensive medical treatment as well psycho therapy with medication. These children will endure a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They will require extensive psychotherapy to get all healed and whole again.

As the incident exploded on various social medial platforms, the Lahore CCPO engaged in a much undignified victim blaming on news channels. Instead of expressing anger over the atrocity and showing concern for the well being of the victim, to ensure that she’s getting adequate medical treatment along with implementing investigative actions immediately into effect, the CCPO heavily blamed the victim for her irresponsible decisions.

Firstly, he said that she should have checked the fuel levels of her car and /or she could’ve taken the more populated GT Road as opposed to the relatively less populated Motorway. Had she taken the GT road, she could have easily found solace and shelter with an unknown family in one of the houses around the GT road. So that means her safety is in her own hands only. Apparently, the entire police are exempt from providing her protection and clearly it’s not their job to ensure safety and security to the women of the country.

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Secondly, he said that why she went alone all by herself in the late hours of the night on a deserted motorway along with children. This act in itself screams asking for trouble. In other words, the poor rape survivor knowingly and intentionally risked the safety of her children and herself. She was further blamed for thinking that Pakistan is not France as the lady was a French national too. So what he implied was that France offers a woman security and safety to move about without any fear. But in Pakistan, a woman can’t enjoy this freedom because we don’t provide her with these luxuries. We aren’t living in stone ages that a potential crime can’t be tracked. We have the technology and the resources to deliver (at least I would like to believe that Pakistan has this much spine and capability to protect Women and children. This comment showing incompetency of the Pakistan Police Force is totally wrong and very difficult to digest.

This kind of harsh victim blaming didn’t go well with the audiences at large, including myself. The reason being that very conveniently and callously, the blame of the entire crime was shifted to the victim, as if she asked for it and she got it.

Another aspect of this victim blaming was people asking the following question: Under what circumstances did she have to leave in the late night with her children? Was there an emergency? But those assumptions are still irrelevant and present a weak and irresponsible argument on the part of the police. Whether or not she should’ve could’ve would’ve done XYZ steps? Those are ridiculous ways of hiding the Police’s own irresponsible callous attitude followed by zero efficiency.

Once the investigative process had started, last but definitely not the least, the higher ups must have demanded a full accountability of all the police agencies that didn’t respond despite knowing about the grave emergency. This particular loophole is of immense critical significance because this sets the tone, for removing gaps in emergency protocols.

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Motorway is one of the most technologically and logistically optimum routes running through the Punjab all the way to Islamabad. It has tolls and restaurants and several times we have witnessed police patrolling on the highway too. So when such a heinous crime is committed on motorway, it baffles you a bit that how did it even happen to begin with? It’s not that she had reached the deep echelons of the highway. She was hardly 10 minutes away from her defense area when she had reached that part of the ring road that is still very much so considered a part of Lahore. So if a highly energized metropolis city like Lahore is unsafe then what safety guarantee is a woman getting by this government, by the police living in districts, towns and villages?

The message being shoved down our throats is that women should mostly stay in-doors. They should travel via populated places and find shelter on their own, because clearly it is not the duty of the Police to protect them and to provide them safe, secure spaces to commute, shop, go to schools, campuses and workplaces. Again victim blaming comes into play. Sometimes, it comes in the form of attire choices. But this time it comes in the form of the time to step outside.

As the social media exploded with anger and severe sadness over this atrocious incident, the public at large is demanding the removal of the CCPO-Lahore for his victim blaming. Also, the audiences are demanding public hanging of the rapists. Public hanging of the rapists is not the solution of heinous crime. Instead, adequate investigative procedures need to be implemented to ensure timely arrest of the alleged rapists.

Hence, DNA collection through the victim’s body parts and ensuring the integrity of the report are the key components of the investigative process. It’s about time that DNA tested data of the Pakistan’s male population (including each and every maulvi of every madrassah in the country) is documented by the NADRA. This process will significantly help in catching the potential culprits.

Once identified, sex offenders and rapists’ data must be entered into a separate database and it should be shared with schools, colleges, and access to this data must be allowed to all workforce agencies to run background checks on their new recruits.

I dedicate this article to my dear Abu who was furious when he saw this news and pushed me to pen my thoughts and he said and I quote, “the daughters of this country are as free to go wherever they want as much as the sons do so”

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1 Comment

  1. Hanifa Junejo September 17, 2020

    Very well written and analyzed! It’s about time a functioning database exits to keep track of these offenders!

    Reply

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