A minor girl was gang raped in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province. After committing the heinous crime, the unknown culprits dumped the girl on the road in front of the Sir Ganga Ram hospital. The five years old, according to the hospital sources, was in critical condition when found. The minor was allegedly abducted from a poor neighborhood where her parents had earlier lodged an FIR at the local police station.
The news spread like wildfire and initiated a country-wide heated debate on Facebook and Twitter. The privately owned radio and television networks are transmitting hourly up dates of the case, while the official radio and televisions stations, in line with their tradition, have maintained a guarded approach towards the whole issue.
So far, four suspects have been re-arrested, after they had been released by the police earlier. They were re-arrested due to the pressure of civil rights activists and the private media. The Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) who carried on a cursory investigation and then released these suspects has been suspended for showing criminal negligence.
The President Mamoon Hussain, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, in separate messages to the nation, have strongly condemned the incident and have assured the nation that the culprits would be caught and immediately handed out exemplary punishment.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has taken suo motto action of the gang rape of the minor girl. The Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has issued directives to the Punjab police department to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter and to apprehend the criminals, as soon as is possible.
This burning issue has also brought the opposition and the government together, on the same page, as this issue transcends all political divides. In the coming days, prayer meetings, vigils and rallies condemning the gang rape of the minor girl are planned throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. Even the expatriates are planning protest rallies in the respective countries they live in.
This crime is an example of the erosion of traditional values in a conservative society like Pakistan. The internet is cited as one of the main causes of this decline in our ethical values because of the proliferation of web cafes where adolescent, teenagers as well as mature adults, view pornography unchecked and without any moral qualms.
In a conservative setup like Pakistan, it’s common for such crimes go unheard and unreported because of the fear instilled in the victims by the Hudood Laws. The Hudood laws were introduced in the 80’s by the military dictator and President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in his quest to make Pakistan an ideal Islamic state.
Under these laws, in the case of rape, the eye witness testimony of two males or four females is required in order to prove the occurrence of the crime. These laws have been bitterly opposed by human rights organizations as a major cause of the rising incidences of rape in the society.
Whatever the case, the gang raped minor victim, though badly traumatized, is slowly recovering while the heads of the entire nation hang down in shame.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada