Curse of Panchayat and revenge rape

DESPITE greater awareness of masses and media focus on issues negatively affecting the rights and fate of women-folk, unfortunate and gory incidents continue to occur in different parts of the country. Latest is a decision by a Panchayat or village council in Multan, which ordered a man earlier this month to rape a teenage girl in revenge for the earlier rape of his sister. Twelve members of the Panchayat including the man that presided over the proceedings have been arrested.
This is one of the most shameful acts that routinely take place in some areas and that too in 21st century. This is not only a heinous crime that took place at the instance of those who are usually considered to be older, serious and wiser in a particular community but is also against the teachings of Islam. The incident shows most of the people of such areas are ignorant of laws of the country, demands of the justice and teachings of our great religion. It is all the more serious that the incident was not reported to police before and has been registered after it came to the notice of Violence Against Women Centre established in Multan to take care of rights and issues relating to women. Non-reporting of the incident to the law enforcing agencies is also reflective of general apathy of the entire local community. The incident must have come to their notice instantly but either they colluded with Panchayat or had no sense of right and wrong. Revenge rapes, gang rapes, forcible undressing of women in public as a punishment to the enemy, Wani, marriage with Holy Quran and honour killings routinely take place in some areas and these are fully known to all but no foolproof measures have been adopted to prevent them. It is failure of the system and particularly local administration and police that are required to protect rights of all especially downtrodden segments of the population. Governments need to focus on these issues that matter much for people in their day-to-day life and prevention is the essence as action after the damage has been done amounts to rubbing salt into the wound.

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