Pakistan: Punjab province declares emergency to deal with surging rapes
In the wake of an uptick in the number of cases of sexual harassment against women and children in Pakistan's Punjab province, the authorities have decided to declare an "emergency" there. Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar said the administration was forced to impose an emergency to deal with rape cases. He said the rapid rise in sexual abuse cases in the province is alarming.
- The issue of sexual abuse against women and children is prevalent in highly patriarchal, orthodox societies around the world, especially in the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan.
- Pakistan's Human Rights Ministry informed the National Assembly in December 2021 that 16,153 rape cases were reported in Pakistan in the past four years.
- According to the official data, Punjab had the highest number of cases every year.
"Four to five cases of rape are being reported daily in Punjab due to which the government is considering special measures to deal with cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and coercion," the Punjab home minister was quoted as saying by PTI. Additionally, Tarar advised parents to educate their children on the importance of safety and to never leave children unattended in their homes alone.
In the presence of the Minister of Law, Malik Mohammad Ahmad Khan, Tarar said that all cases of sexual harassment will be examined by the Cabinet Committee on Rape and Law and Order. Along with following the due process of law, he also said that civil society, women's rights groups, teachers, and lawyers will be consulted while reviewing such cases to curb them.
Tarar said the accused in numerous sexual abuse cases have been jailed, adding the government has undertaken an anti-rape awareness campaign. He said students will also be educated regarding sexual harassment in schools. Responding to a question, the minister regretted the consumption of drugs, which, according to him, has become fashionable in prestigious schools and universities, contributing to an increase in such crimes.
In addition, Home Minister Tarar stated that the Punjab Forensic Science Agency's role would be strengthened for the expedited collection of DNA samples in sexual abuse cases. Moreover, a briefing with the forensic agency's officials over the issue was scheduled to take on Monday.