The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Punjab organizer, Chaudhry Sarwar has claimed that the government has failed to control rape and kidnap cases-making Pakistan among the 10 worst countries when it comes to rape cases. With the Kasur scandal still lingering upon us, and thousands of rape cases unreported, one can only wonder if things will ever get better.

Issuing a “fact sheet” on Monday on the rape and kidnap incidents, he stated 14,850 kidnap cases involving women, children and girls were reported in Punjab during the last one year. He said some 2,000 women were kidnapped, 80 percent of them allegedly raped during last year while 15 percent were killed. Moreover, he said 980 minors were kidnapped, including newborns from hospitals. These incidents of kidnap and rape of women and children are continuously rising- the Punjab government has failed to protect the lives of its citizens.

Recently, a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped on after being drugged in a guest house in Lahore. After a thorough investigation, it was revealed that the main culprit is said to be the PML-N Punjab Youth Wing Secretary. He got away from the scandal without a scratch. What makes it so easy for culprits to get away with this, is not only no accountability, but the outdated law criminalising rape. The prosecution of rape cases fall in a limited definition excluding a whole host of acts such as sodomy, coercive oral sex and male on male violence. This makes it clear that a larger number of perpetrators are allowed impunity, leaving many victims without any redress. Until 2006, under the Hadood Ordinance, there was no such thing as statutory rape. The Women Protection Bill in 2006 outlawed statutory rape i.e. sex with girls under the age of 16.

However, even when laws exist, justice does not.

There is a need to divert the attention of women’s rights advocacy from only legislative development to also changing misogynistic stereotypes underlying rape adjudication. Legislative developments will only be effective if accompanied by a gender sensitization of our judiciary.