ATC’s landmark decision

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An Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday awarded death sentence to both accused Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali in Motorway gang rape case.

This is a landmark decision as it is for the first time that gang rape convicts have been handed death sentences.

Such incidents are a scar on our country and indeed those involved in horrendous acts do not deserve any mercy whatsoever.

Handing down strict punishment to them through speedy trial is the only way to check such incidents.

The motorway gang rape that took place on 09 September last year had spurred public outrage and a wave of demonstrations nationwide.

On this, Prime Minister Imran Khan took strict notice and later an ordinance was promulgated for chemical castration of sexual abusers.

The draft of the anti-rape ordinance also includes increasing women’s role in policing, fast tracking rape cases and witness protection.

Given the gravity of problem, we expect that Parliament will now fulfil its responsibility and pass this as a law in a bipartisan manner.

According to official statistics, at least eleven rape cases are reported in Pakistan every day. However the conviction rate is very low.

The statistics also speak that only forty one percent of rape cases are reported to police due to social pressures and loopholes in the law.

We understand that the new law envisaging speedy convictions will encourage victims to report such cases to get justice.

The fact of matter is that hiding the crime only emboldens criminals whether they are sex offenders or others.

Hence victims and their families must be forthcoming to bring such sex offenders to face the law.

Soon after the motorway incident, the Prime Minister had also ordered to establish a toll free national emergency helpline to provide immediate help to those facing an emergency.

Concerned authorities appeared to be sleeping on the matter, as motorway incident could have been averted if help had reached woman victim timely.

In this backdrop, it is important that a fully integrated helpline is established immediately to help those facing any emergency in future.