Preventing rape


After a series of heinous rape incidents that occurred last year and the consequent statements about women’s clothing issued in its aftermath, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an attempt to quell public anger, vowed to introduce chemical castration as a form of strict punishment. On Wednesday, almost a year later, the Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021 but the clause that called for ‘chemical castration’ of habitual rapists was removed after the CII declared it ‘un-Islamic’.

While some put Islamic ideals at the forefront and claim that all laws must be under the Shariah, others insist on punishing the abuser out of sheer rage — both of which are plausible in their own right. But amid all this tension, we must not forget the victims and the tragedies of rape that have unfolded. We must work collectively towards a common goal — to end the rape epidemic that plagues our nation. Yes, harsher punishment will act as a form of deterrence but there exists criminals that do not care much for the consequences of their actions or may even be a different frame of mind to even consider them. Moreover, it is essential to realise that these provisions are primarily useful after instances of rape have transpired, ideally to ensure justice. These are not methods of prevention.

The fact is that our society has given rise to a ‘rape culture’ in which rape and violence are consciously and unconsciously encouraged due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Therefore, the government, the CII and civil society organisations must work towards trying to understand the socio-economic and psychological conditions that lead to an individual committing such an act. We must deconstruct their motives and their reasons along with other external factors tied to it. Only then we will be in a much better position of introducing measures that truly prevent such instances.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2021.

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