Peshawar: Women’s Protection law fails rape victims’
PESHAWAR: Human rights watchdog organisations have said that rape victims are still facing difficulties in registering their cases at police stations and courts despite the implementation of the Women’s Protection Act (WPA) in January 2007.
A provision in the Act calls for a session judge to hear all complaints related to rape. But the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), in its recent report, stated that the Act introduced barriers for rape victims who had neither the financial means to pursue their cases nor access to the courts. The commission reported that some police stations would no longer register rape complaints.
NWFP Aurat Foundation Resident Director Rakhshanda Naz told Daily Times that in the NWFP, rape victims, as well as women involved in other cases, were facing great difficulties in registering their cases at police stations.
Need to understand the WPA According to a recent Aurat Foundation survey, she said that there was no copy of the new law in the provincial police stations. “Even if the police have a copy of the law in police stations but do not understand it, then how can they lodge the first information report of rape victims under the Women’s Protection Act”
She said that her NGO had started an awareness campaign for the police and had distributed Urdu copies at police stations in six districts. The campaign aims to familiarise the police with the relevant legal framework so that they can register women’s cases under the WPA.
Naz said that she had met NWFP IGP Malik Naveed. She said that with his co-operation, the NGO would impart basic training for the police to deal with the cases under the WPA.
Citing the cases of rape victims, the HRCP reported that on January 10, 2007, four men allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl in Shahdara Town in Lahore. After police reportedly refused to register the family’s complaint, local human rights organisations lodged a complaint with the office of the Punjab chief minister. The chief minister offered financial assistance to the family and ordered that the police station house officer be dismissed. But, by the end of the year, no arrests had been made.
On January 27, 2007, 11 men reportedly gang-raped 16-year-old Nasima Labano and forced her to walk around the village naked in Habib Labano, Sindh. The rape was tribal retribution Nasima’s male cousin had been seen with a woman from the same tribe as the men who raped Nasima.
Police initially refused to register the case but did so after female legislators and the HRCP intervened. Nasima’s community rejected her after she became pregnant as a result of the gang rape. Police arrested six suspects in March and two others in July. By the end of 2007, the case was being heard before an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad.
The report said that there were no developments in the 2005 rape case of Shazia Khalid at the Sui Gas field in Balochistan. Baloch nationalists claimed Frontier Corps personnel had raped her; the government claimed that DNA evidence indicated otherwise.