LAHORE - The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over the death of a rape victim who had set herself ablaze because a police report had helped the rapist get bail in the case.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Commission said: “HRCP is pained beyond words by the death of 18-year old gang-rape victim in Muzaffargarh. Her sacrifice has exposed the ordeals that rape victims in the country face when they try to bring their tormentors to justice. It is common knowledge that only the courageous rape victims in Pakistan take the matter to the police or court. The girl had gone to Bet Mir Hazar police station in Muzaffargarh on Thursday to lodge protest with an investigation officer for helping the main accused get bail by favouring him in his report.
“The fact that the girl set herself ablaze outside the police station later the same day, two months after she was raped by four men, leads to only one conclusion: she had convinced that she would not get justice. It is sad and symbolic in equal measure that only a week after celebrating International Women’s Day with such fanfare, the justice system and the state has let a woman down so brazenly.
“It will make little difference to the girl that the main accused was rearrested along with the investigating officer later on Thursday. Unfortunately, this tragic incident would only discourage victims of sexual violence from trying to get justice.
“The saddest part is that it took an 18-year old girl who lacked legal training two months to find out that the odds were stacked against her. Legal and criminal justice experts should be able to grasp that more quickly.
Barring a sudden and miraculous change of heart somewhere, it is almost certain that the girl’s ordeal and painful death would have no positive impact in the context of sexual violence against women in Pakistan. The chief justice has taken a suo motu notice. If suo motu notices alone could lead to change, Pakistan would be a much reformed country now. HRCP hopes the government would at least belatedly realise its obligation to prosecute the rapist and immediately launch practical measures to ensure that no other rape victim has to set herself ablaze to get noticed.”