The rape and slay incident of minor girl, Zainab, had sparked a furore across Pakistan demanding public hanging of child molesters, which was later also proposed by the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior to be added into a law.
A group of people believes that public hanging could contain the rising crimes of rapes in the country and they cite example of former dictator Zia ul Haq, who came into power through a coup. They claim that during Zia’s regime one culprit was hanged and the heinous crime never happened for the next 10 years to come. However, if you fact check, you will find that this was not the case.
Let’s set the record straight about what actually happened during the military dictator’s era. The other group believes that the condition of requiring identification of rapists and providing four witnesses to prove rape, the Hudood Ordinance, made it difficult for the victim to even present their case before a judge.
Writer Nadeem F Paracha said under the military regime if a raped woman became pregnant it was considered proof of adultery. This meant the raped woman could be given a jail sentence while the rapists could go scot-free, he added.
“In 1983 a blind girl (Safia Bibi) was raped. Court asked her to identify the rapists. But she was blind and had become pregnant. This was treated as evidence of fornication. She was thrown into jail and her (alleged) rapists were set free,” he wrote in a social media post quoting an incident of Zia’s period.
Thus lots of rape cases were converted into adultery cases and victims were punished which required rectification and improvement in the cases and justice system.
Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also spoke against Zia ul Haq. She claimed that his introduction of regular public flogging often in stadiums became cruel entertainment for masses. She said it never stopped crimes from being committed, however violence pervaded mindsets of people.
The Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act 2006 amended Hudood Ordinance and now Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) covers rape.
This should be noted that 3,881 cases of rape, 1,359 cases of child sexual abuse, 1,758 cases of violence against women, 12,600 cases of kidnapping of women were registered in 2019 in Punjab alone.
After the fresh case of rape on Lahore motorway, people have once again resorted to the demand of public hanging of the rapists, however, the question arises here that, will it make the situation any better?