The Minar-e-Pakistan incident on Independence Day was a clear example of failure of the law enforcement agencies. It also perfectly epitomised our social behavior. This was not the first such incident, of course. Violence against women, and the marginalised, has become a Pakistani habit.
A six-year-old girl was murdered after rape in Karachi’s Korangi area. Earlier this year, a nine-year-old girl was murdered by strangulation after being raped in Khairpur town of Sindh. Nothing more needs to be said about the extent of frustration in the society and the internal devastation of our law enforcement agencies
The Noor Muqaddam case is another test case. For, both the accused and the victim belonged to the elite class.
Memories are still fresh of last year’s Lahore Motorway rape incident. A week later another brutal case of pedophilia was reported when a two-and-a-half-year-old little girl was sexually assaulted, and killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
From Mukhtaran Mai’s ordeal two decades ago, to Achakzai’s acquittal of running over a policeman on ‘insufficient proof’, there are countless examples where convictions could not be reached for one reason or the other.
According to a report of UNODC titled ‘International Statistics on Crime and Justice’, the conviction rate in Pakistan is 5-6 persons out of 100,000.
Women, religious minorities, and transgender people continue to face attacks, discrimination, and often government-complicit persecution. Law enforcement and security agencies are not held accountable for serious human rights violations. Secret military courts hand out death sentences, raising fair trial concerns. The government muzzles dissenting voices in nongovernmental organisations and media.
The society is becoming numb towards the torture of the weak. Hence, such incidents are becoming more frequent. The offenders’ horrid actions are not just limited to sexual urge, it is the sense of overpowering the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, as violence against women continues unabated, people merely express their anger and extend sympathies, or in some cases protest. All is forgotten before the next incident. Unfortunately, social justice is never implemented. Civil societies talk a lot, but there is no walk.
Even amid the uproar, there is victim-blaming and some actions deemed ‘provoking’. Unless we change such a mindset, and try to bring the accused to justice rather than blaming the victim, social progression is impossible.
Most importantly, the police and justice system need to be fixed to increase successful prosecutions and conviction rates, without which no change is possible at the grassroots.
Indeed, change is only possible if fear of law is instilled in potential perpetrators, along with the threat of becoming a social outcast, if even the minutest step is taken towards heinous crimes against the marginalised, especially women.