ISLAMABAD: Pakistan‘s Punjab province has decided to declare an “emergency” amid a rapid increase in reported cases of sexual abuse against women and children.
At a press conference on Monday, Punjab Home Minister Atta Tarar said that an increase in such incidents was a serious issue for society and government officials.
“Four to five cases of rape are being reported daily in Punjab due to which the government is considering special measures to deal with the cases of sexual harassment, abuse and coercion,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News.
“To deal with rape cases, the administration has declared an emergency,” he stated.
The minister said that civil society, women’s rights organisations, teachers, and attorneys would be consulted in the matter. Besides this, he urged parents to teach their children the importance of safety.
Tarar stated that the government had also launched an anti-rape campaign, and that students would be warned about harassment in schools.
“The accused in a number of cases have been detained. A system will be implemented in two weeks to reducing the incidents,” he added.
Violence against women cuts across classes in the country.
Women’s harassment at workplace, domestic violence and other discriminatory activities have also been rampant.
“There were 5,048 cases of workplace harassment of women and violence against women reported in the country during 2018, followed by 4,751 cases in 2019, 4,276 cases in 2020 and 2,078 cases in 2021”, a human rights ministry document said.
In Global Gender Gap Index 2021 rankings, Pakistan ranks 153 out of 156 countries, just above Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.
International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) said overlapping legal systems, punctured with loopholes and a deeply engrained patriarchy in the society combine to ensure women survivors of violence are improbable to get justice as per the opinion of human rights activists, lawyers and survivors.
“The whole process from the moment a crime is committed against a woman to registering it with the police — and then the court procedure — is structured in such a way that justice remains elusive,” Nayab Gohar Jan, a prominent rights activist had stated.