By Islamic law, Rape is an offense against the state and murder an offense against the individual. This means while murder can be forgiven but rape cannot be.
The recent gang rape on Motorway Lahore commonly known as ‘Motorway Incident’ ignited a fire across the country. It made it to headlines for days, protests were carried out deeming Pakistan as an unsafe country for women. The situation seemed very much like the Zainab Murder case two years ago in 2018 when a six year old girl was sexually offended and murdered. The entire story ended with Zainab Alert Bill and the execution of the murderer Imran Ali. The silver lining to that murky cloud was that with new legislation sexual abuse against children would be swiftly dealt with. But now two years later on motorway when a mother of two children was raped and DNA profiling came back with results showing an already registered rapist as the offender, public has gone haywire and rightfully so.
How will it end this time? Just letting the news slowly diffuse till the nation forgets until there is another incident or poking the authorities until necessary legislation is done and justice is ensured.
After an outcry over demand for legalization of public execution of sexual offenders, Prime Minister Imran Khan took to media and despite his personal support for the idea said that public executions could not be carried out. Legalizing public execution would affect the Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+) status of Pakistan. The GSP plus status allows Pakistan to enjoy additional trade incentives with the European Union.
So for a country that is already fighting the economic war, trying to stand its ground would it be a good idea to move ammunition to help the social war. One front has to sacrifice, but which does it have to be.
With approximately 5000 people already on death row in Pakistan would social media prove helpful in bringing sex offenders to justice? Is swift justice just for cases that become a top trend on Twitter?
This is what The Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act of 2006 states
- Whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years or more, than twenty-five years and shall also be liable to fine
- When rape is committed by two or more persons in furtherance of common intention of all, each of such persons shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.
Rape is the sexual intercourse that does not involve consent. This is clearly stated in the constitution of Pakistan. So if the law so clearly states death penalty and life imprisonment why rapists that were at some point are arrested roaming free. While this happens how do leaders of law enforcing agencies have the audacity to blame the victim? Is the victim to be blamed of such horrendous state of law enforcement in the country? Absolutely Not. How does someone who has already been arrested and served six months in prison for the very same crime roam freely while the law very clearly states what his punishment must be. Can we rely on just changes in laws and legislations to be the miracle that makes Pakistan safe for women to travel, and do anything that is their fundamental right not a luxury offered to them? While swift and abundantly accessible justice will definitely help the situation it is the entire social and moral chapter that needs to be thoroughly revised in the society.
Public hangings are carried out in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Iran. Capital punishment was resumed to be carried out after the APS massacre in 2014. At that point it was absolutely necessary to take concrete steps against the tipping bottle of terrorism and right now it is absolutely necessary to ensure safety of all citizens; unbiased across the board.
While public execution is not something we cannot see happening anytime soon, the government has decided to take steps towards legalization of chemical castration of the sexual offenders. Human Right activists have been in a dilemma lately; do they chant for the safety of the majority of the innocent population or for dignified humane treatment of criminals who are in any case human beings. International agreements bind us to not publically exhibit the death sentences but hard times call for strict and drastic measures.
But who is to decide that these times that we are living in are hard?