We saw how the entire country united after the Zainab rape incident came to the forefront. The entire government machinery got together to speed up the investigation and catch the culprit. And it was not just that one incident then which further agitated the population, many other rape cases were also being reported one after the other.
For once, Pakistan seemed to really care about the sexual abuse and exploitation that its children suffer from
This was definitely not the first time we witnessed outrage of the public. Back when the Kasur sex scandal first came to light, a similar reaction was witnessed. However, it soon died down because the followup in most cases does not exist.
It is safe to say that our anger most of the times does not translate into action. That of course is because we easily get distracted.
Recently, PTI MNA Asad Umar, filed for a Zainab Alert Act 2018 in the parliament. The Act seeks to improve the overall response time to rape cases of minor and cases of missing minors
The Act has a two pronged approach:
Number One: Establish an office which deals specifically with such cases. They will detect, alert and rescue the missing children.
Number Two: Create a database to deal with such crimes. This will automatically speed up the investigation process and allow those working on the cases to establish patterns and get to the criminals as soon as possible.
Submitted the zainab alert act 2018 in the NA today. The act is designed to improve the systems in place to fight the most heinous of crimes…the abduction, rape and murder of children which has become unfortunately rampant. Protecting our children has to be our highest priority pic.twitter.com/Wkib0u8AWL
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) March 14, 2018
Let’s dissect the proposed legislation for its pros and cons
Pros: The establishment of an office to deal specifically with these cases will definitely speed up the process. If a team is dedicated only to solving rape crimes against minors, they are expected to understand the patterns and will take timely action.
The suggestion of a database is a genius idea because each such crime can then be listed down. The database will include all minors which are reported missing and will make it easier for the office to act as soon as the crime is reported.
Cons: While there is no denying that both of the suggestions are equally important, it cannot be ignored that creating a special office means more resources and funds will be required.
At the same time, if for every other crime, a special office is devised, this then entirely takes away the purpose of our law enforcement agencies and the judicial makeup as well. The first and foremost step is always empowering the current setup.
Even if a special office is devised, who can guarantee that it will not just be a waste of funds and timely action will be taken?
After the Zainab incident, a lot such petitions were filed which completely ignore what the actual requirements are and demand something completely different
HANG THE CULPRIT PUBLICALLY. we dont give a fuck what our law says, and how long it can there, we just want the culprit to be hanged. #JusticeForZainab
— مر شد پاک (@murshadtera) January 10, 2018
For example, forensic evidence which is very important in rape cases is absent in Pakistan. We lack the resources and the expertise to investigate rape cases properly. The European Union (EU) at countless times has pressurized Pakistan to establish a proper network of forensic evidence to empower the criminal justice system. The only province which has a proper forensic network is Punjab. The Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) has collaborated with the EU to develop a forensic network. The other provinces still lack such mechanisms.
We do not see any work related to that in the parliament.
There were demands of publicly hanging the culprit
The Law Ministry suggested publicly displaying the body after execution. Even the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) suggested increasing the number of execution witnesses to 40 in order to set a precedent.
All these suggestions making their way to the parliament, as one can see, are quite regressive in nature. In a democratic system, public executions have no place. They are the epitome of dictatorial regimes.
And this is just one kind of crime where they are demanding public executions, if the same precedent is set in every other crime which agitates the public, then the streets of Pakistan will be very gory.
One can clearly see that the anger does not translate into making the right kind of suggestions. There is no mention whatsoever of empowering the current setup at all.
The current judicial and criminal investigation setup should be empowered in a manner to deal with such cases. They should be prompted to utilize the resources at hand to deliver what is expected of them.