Islamabad, September 12, 2020: Addressing the Motorway Gang Rape in her Senate speech, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “This issue should not be politicised. On the international day of democracy, we should remember what democracy stands for”.
“It is important that right words are used. Stop calling it as an incident because it’s not one as it did not just happen like that. It’s a voluntary act of violence against a woman. The only word for it is gang rape,” she added.
Calling out the CCPO for his callous sexist statement, she said, “Instead of doing his job which is protecting the citizens of this country, CCPO tried to become the guardian of public morality. This was not the time to ask why she did not get petrol. His late apology left a very bad taste in the mouth as it seemed meaningless and just done to get it out of the way”.
“Then we had government ministers supporting his victim-shaming while the PM kept quiet for days. What kind of message is being given to the public? That our women should not go out and just stay home? Are women and children not safe in this Naya Pakistan?” she questioned.
Highlighting the casual sexism, Rehman said, “Punjab police is being protected instead of the women of Pakistan, who have been told that they are on their own. That if they travel alone or exercise their constitutional rights as citizens in public spaces then they open themselves up to attack. This is just not done. Crimes are committed everywhere in the world but this is not the message you send out”.
“The Prime Minister has finally broken his silence by calling for chemical castration for rapists but public hangings and castrations have not proved to be a deterrent anywhere. Even the Supreme Court has banned public hangings. They only brutalise the society further. This is public diversion from real, more pervasive issue of chasing better investigation and prosecution of crimes. The crime of rape already carries a death penalty in our laws,” she said.
Discussing Zia’s regressive laws, she said, “By bringing back Zia ul Haq’s policies, we are not doing good to anyone. Calling for public hanging is just to divert people’s attention. Zia started this but did the crime rate drop? No. This is also not ancient Rome where they said that we have to keep people busy with bread and circuses. This will only lead to people taking law and order in their hand which will end up causing unrest in the society”.
“We have examples to prove that public hanging does not deter criminals as after the public hanging of the killer and rapist of a young boy named ‘Pappu’ in 1981, between 1983 and 1992, 11 reported cases of rape were committed against minors in Pakistan, as young as 4 years of age. 4 of the cases occurred in Lahore, where the public execution of Pappu’s rapist was done,” she added.
Highlighting the main problems, she said, “Real issues are being brushed under the carpet because it is easy to call out for public hangings and ignore the long-term systematic changes that are required. There is a dire to need fix problems at investigation, evidence collection and prosecution stage. Most rape cases go unreported because of police, legal and societal problems. Focus on enforcing already existing laws”.
“Why is the rapist not arrested yet? Why did it take so long for the police to respond? Why is the survivor being shamed by Government officials as having been lax in her own security? Why are the Ministers not apologising for protecting the CCPO? What is the state of patrolling on our motorways? These are all questions which need to be addressed,” she said.
Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying that, “Bringing back Zia’s punishment back in our society would be demeaning democracy and it’s authority in the country. Zulfiqar Bhutto and SMBB’s politics represented a courageous commitment for democracy and they sacrificed their lives to protect it. Difficult times require difficult decisions and it’s still not too late to make a change”.