Three days ago an eight-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered as she was thrown off the roof of her house in Karachi. Today, a victim who was tortured and set on fire for refusing a marriage proposal from the son of a former colleague in Murree, died in PIMS hospital Islamabad as she succumbed to her severe burn injuries. On 27 May, a girl was raped in a village in Okara as the accused broke into her house with accomplices and committed the heinous crime. On 13 May, a 12-year-old boy was killed in Badin after reportedly being gang-raped, suffocated and thrown into a water drain by two suspects who admitted their crime to the police and stated that there have been other victims in the past. On 27 April, two men kidnapped an eight-year-old girl and gang raped her for seven days. They later strangled her. When they were caught due to an anonymous tip, the accused told the police “he and his accomplice had abducted five minor girls and killed them after subjecting them to rape.” A woman who had lost her eyes in an acid attack was gang-raped in Layyah district of Punjab, a week ago, according to her by the man who gave her alms once every year. On 13 May, an ‘exorcist’, well known as a holy man in a village near Karachi, raped and tortured a mentally challenged 16-year-old girl for four days as he tried to ‘cure’ her before leaving her for dead.

These are not just numbers but real people, women and children, both girls and boys, that are being raped, tortured and murdered. State and society have failed to protect them or to grant them justice. In order to end sexual violence, we need a through implementation of punishment – swift and harsh – to set examples. In most cases, the men perpetuating the violence know that they will get away with it. There must be no clemency, and in cases of honour killings, the precedence of compromise needs to be done away with. Right now, law enforcement and the justice system seem to be on the side of criminals, leaving victims with the option of death, suicide, and a life of physical and mental misery.