ISLAMABAD - War Against Rape (WAR), an apolitical, Non-Profit and Non-Government Organisation, has expressed deep concern about the alleged gang-rape case of a 26-year-old woman ‘S’ on a Bahauddin Zakria Express, a private train heading towards Karachi from Multan.

Police have arrested two accused, train manager Aqib Munir and a ticket-checker Zahid, however yet to fail to arrest the third accused.

WAR urges the state including Inspector General of Railways Police Faisal Shahkar and SSP Investigation Kausar Abbass to arrest the third accused and fairly investigate the case to help the survivor and her family.

WAR believes that there are only a few reported cases in Railway which are under record in past. However the actual figures are much higher than the reported ones as survivors of rape do not come forward to report such incidents due to taboo and various other factors such as fear of stigmatization, shame and guilt, social pressures placed upon survivors, victim-blaming, lengthy and insensitive court proceedings, and biased, judgmental and discouraging attitudes by the key state actors of the justice towards survivors.

WAR is also concerned about the safety and security of other families and individual women and girls who are travelling on daily basis across Pakistan. Such incidents raise serious doubts and concerns over the safety measures of the Pakistan Railway and its management as they have completely failed to protect women and girls passengers.

During 2021, the Official data collected from Karachi Range Police and Police Surgeon’s office Karachi shows that a total of 2611 First Information Report (FIRs) were registered in sexual violence cases (181 rape & 80 gang-rape) compared to 562 medico-legal examinations (MLEs), 2 were conducted in alleged sexual violence cases in 3 major government hospitals, Abbassi Shaheed Hospital, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Civil Hospital Karachi. The discrepancies continue to exist in the aforementioned figures of MLEs and FIRs as the data revealed that FIRs were registered in only 46% cases. The major reasons that contribute to such discrepancies including lack of trust and non-cooperation and various other factors as mentioned above, and may be the reliable data is missing by the police or lack of awareness amongst survivors and their families regarding their rights or actual procedure.

Moreover, in Sindh Range during 2021, according to Karachi Police, a total of 455 sexual violence cases were reported including 368 rape and 87 gang-rape compared to a total of 398 (344 rape and 54 gang-rape) cases reported in 2020. The comparison of the data revealed around 13% increase in rape and gang-rape cases during 2021 as compared to 2020.

Concerning about the growing severity and increasing number of rape and gang-rape cases, WAR recommends state to address the frontline stakeholders’ i.e. police, prosecutors and judges, medico-legal officers (MLOs) including media, academician, community members etc who need to be sensitized and re-sensitize through refresh courses to identify, prevent and effectively respond to ensure the safety and protection of the vulnerable segments of the society. WAR also requests the concerned authority for fast trials to ensure speedy justice, so that cases of sexual violence must be decided at-least within 6 months.