Petition filed in IHC against TV channels disclosing identity of rape victims

Zubair Qureshi

A petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking legal action against media channels which have been disclosing identity of rape victims as doing so is a punishable offence under the law and also in violation of the electronic media code of conduct 2015. Petitioners Sharafat Ali Chaudhry and Umer Sajjad Chaven advocates have cited federation of Pakistan through secretary Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) through chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Interior Ministry and Chief Secretaries of the four provinces as respondents.
The petitioners have contended that in their race for rating, some TV channels have been disclosing identity of rape and murder victims bringing immense grief and sense of insecurity to their relatives and the public at large.
The petition goes on to say that according to different media and NGO reports a large number of children suffered from child sexual abuse, became victim of child pornography, adduction, rape and even murder. Such incidents have been reported from across the country but district Kasur became the hub of such unfortunate incidents of crime. It is reported that during first six months of 2017 in Kasur alone, a total of 129 cases of child assault were reported, says the petition. After brutal rape and murder of a 7 years girl in Kasur who was abducted on January 04, 2018, media in general and electronic and social media in particular played a vital and highlighted the issue of child sexual abuse. The petition calls upon the court to enhance child and women protection measures. On the other hand there were many reports, in some newspapers, TV channels and circulated through social media that were not in consonance with the law, media code of conduct and social morality. TV channels and social media users violated the law and disclosed identities of victim of rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping or murder. In all this situation, the responsible government institutions remained inactive and inefficient, says the petition. The petitioner urged the court to enquire of the respondents as to why action is not being taken against those who violated the law and disclosed the identity of victims of rape. The petition has also pleaded the court to direct interior ministry and chief secretaries of the four provinces to take action under section 376A of PPC against those individuals, groups or entities who violate the law and also take measures to create awareness among public at large that disclosure of identity of victims of rape is a cognizable offence.

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