The most encouraging and promising feature of the current government is its willingness and readiness to eradicate the ills and bring reforms at various levels despite limited resources and endless challenges both internally and externally. 760 PIA employees, including 17 pilots, were sacked in August 2020 over the issue of fake qualifications. A devastating plane crash (PK 8303) from Lahore to Karachi and the subsequent loss of 100 lives on the unfortunate day of 22 May 2020 necessitated reforms in the aviation industry. Massive urban flooding and infrastructural damage during the recent monsoon told the tales of poor governance in Karachi since decades. A 1.1 trillion-rupee package came as the Karachi Transformation Plan to deal with mega city woes. Pakistan is referred to as one of the top seven countries to have dealt with Covid-19 situation effectively by an international newspaper. The issues of governance and political corruption are deep-rooted. Yet, the current government is readily taking measures and dealing with domestic concerns efficiently. Out of a myriad of social issues, the crime of rape carries graver impact from social, psychological, economic, to structural aspects of the country. It is increasing with every passing day, subjecting 50 percent of the total population to risk, anxiety, insecurity and constant fear. The horrifying motorway rape incident on September 10, and several others reported and un-reported rape assaults in other parts of the world, is reflection of moral and social decay as a human society.

Rape is more than a sexual violence. According to Prof. Johan Galtung, Father of Peace Studies, ‘violence is an act of direct, indirect, physical, mental, sexual, emotional, psychological, social, cultural and structural harm and damage to human beings’. Killing, physical or sexual abuse, punching or hitting someone; torturing and inciting stress and anxiety, discouraging; not addressing an issue at policy and structural level; legitimising or justifying a crime or any form of violence under the ambit of culture or religion—these all are various forms of direct and indirect violence. Framing ‘rape crime’ under this definition of Prof. Galtung, it sadly fulfils the criteria of both direct and indirect, physical and non-physical, sexual, mental, emotional, cultural, structural, social, psychological, economic violence.

Rape stigmatises a person for life; it diminishes prospects of working and living with respect and dignity in a society because somehow society still does not blame the rapists but rejects the raped. What does the future hold for her? A married woman would get divorced after the incident. A working lady would quit her job and career. A young student would stop pursuing her education at the university. A house wife or a mother would be cursed for a crime she never committed. They live with the fear for their entire life. The trauma is immense, both tangible and intangible. Therefore, rape crime has to be taken as an alarming problem so that urgent and collective action can be taken.

Many countries have stricter laws to punish rapists. Public hanging or victim shooting the rapist is the punishment in Iran, beheading or stoning to death in Saudi Arabia, life imprisonment in the USA, shooting in the head within four days of the trial in Afghanistan and public execution in North Korea are examples of this law. In Pakistan, a multi-pronged strategy needs to be adopted urgently. First, the implementation of the law of hanging rapists publicly or stoning them to death. This should be done speedily without any delays or wasting time in trials. When the rapists are arrested, medical reports prove the crime; painful and strict public punishment will set an example for other potential rapists. They need to fear the law and its implementation.

Second, police emergency numbers and calls should be taken as the primary source of help, regardless of time and location. More active patrolling on highways and motorways, along with more police booths, should be established and easier access and urgent response on the first call for help need to be there. Making police stations safer for the victim to register an FIR in and giving behavioural training to police officers should be a priority so that they are able to provide support for a traumatised victim empathetically rather than making it difficult for her. We need to have more women police officers at various levels to provide a comfortable environment to the victim during the process rather than harassing her with obnoxious questioning posed by male officers.

Thirdly, social reforms, involving each and every platform, need to be enacted to contain the threat and crime of rape. It may be a combination of consciousness, effort and action. It has to be an overhauling process. Few years ago, YouTube was banned over the issue of blasphemous content. In the same manner, illicit content should warrant the ban of pornographic websites and all potential proxies that give access to such sites. We need to sensitise young boys and girls about rape crime at all available forums –homes, educational institutes, mosques and madrassahs, work places and the like. They should be taught that nothing rationalises rape; neither a situation, time nor a dress. They should learn the importance of saying and accepting a ‘No’. There is no masculinity in overpowering a woman through sexual violence. Misogyny resides in the individual’s mind and is manifested at institutional or organizational level when the individual is in a powerful position. Some misogynists rape the women, other hold her responsible for the crime. The treatment for rape crime revolves around law and society. Normalise speedy justice and human rights, not rape.