Alleged gang rape of woman in moving train sparks anger in Pakistan


Three men, one of whom is a ticket checker, have been charged with raping the woman, a 25-year-old mother of two, as she traveled from the city of Karachi to Multan in Pakistan’s Punjab province last week, according to Pakistani authorities. Ministry of Railways. It added that the attack happened after the men asked her to move to an air-conditioned carriage.

The three men have been arrested on suspicion of rape, according to a police report that CNN has seen.

Salman Sufi, the chief of the prime minister’s strategic reform implementation unit, told CNN on Thursday that the government had instructed rail operators to improve the safety of women on trains, with measures such as CCTV cameras in communal areas, emergency buttons in cabs and patrols by female police officers.

The incident has sparked anger in a democracy of 220 million people, which has a poor record of protecting women’s rights and where brutal acts of gender-based violence and sexual assault often make headlines.

Fouzia Saeed, a women’s rights activist in Pakistan, called on police to “make the environment safer” for women, while the Pakistani newspaper Dawn on Wednesday expressed outrage over what it called “a horrendous crime”.

“Another horrific incident of sexual assault has come to light, underscoring how an arrogant approach to security arrangements can encourage criminally inclined men to admit their worst instincts,” Dawn said in an editorial.

More than 5,200 women reported being raped in the country by 2021, according to Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, but experts believe the actual number is much higher as many victims are too afraid to come forward because of social stigma and blame. the victim in the patriarchal society.

Less than 3% of sexual assault or rape cases result in a conviction in Pakistan, Reuters reported in December 2020, citing Karachi-based nonprofit War Against Rape.

In December 2020, the country tightened its rape law to create special courts to hear cases within four months and conduct medical examinations on women within six hours of a complaint being filed.
Last November, Pakistan passed an anti-rape law that allows courts to order chemical castration of sex offenders convicted of multiple rapes. Chemical castration is the use of drugs to decrease libido or sexual activity. It is a legal form of punishment in South Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic and some US states, among others.
The changes were in response to a massive public outcry over a wave of rapes against women in the country and the growing demand for justice.

But human rights groups criticized the legislation and instead called on the authorities to tackle the root of the problem.

Amnesty International called the punishment for chemical castration ‘cruel and inhumane’.

“Rather than trying to divert attention, authorities should focus on the crucial work of reforms that address the root causes of sexual violence and give survivors the justice they deserve,” Amnesty said.

Despite the recent tightening of anti-rape laws, activists say Pakistan continues to disappoint its women. It has no state law that criminalizes domestic violence, leaving many vulnerable to assault.

Last year, the beheading of Noor Mukadam, the daughter of a Pakistani ambassador, sent shockwaves through the country. Protesters called on the government to do more to protect women.

Her killer, Zahir Jaffer, the 30-year-old son of an influential family and dual Pakistani-American nationals known to Mukadam, was sentenced to death in February by a judge in Islamabad.

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