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Pakistan: Statement on Motorway Rape 10th September 2020 | Women’s Action Forum, Lahore

11 September

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Women’s Action Forum, Lahore

Statement on Motorway Rape 10th September 2020

Women’s Action Forum Lahore is aghast at the horrifying gang rape of a woman in front of her children on her way to Gujranwala from Lahore on the newly commissioned stretch (M 11) of the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway. Apparently the jurisdiction of this stretch is not yet determined with neither the Punjab police nor the Highway police taking responsibility for security of travelers and failing to respond to her when her car stalled and she called for help. Not only was she gang raped but also beaten with lathis, and robbed of her money and jewelry.

WAF is outraged by the attitude and insensitive remarks of the newly appointed Lahore CCPO who, instead of acknowledging the failure of the police to ensure traveler safety, shamelessly blamed the victim for her rape. CCPO’s callous remarks and pontification sheds a sorry light on the moral integrity and efficiency of our state institutions and the mindset of Pakistani men. The occasion was certainly not one for a lecture on the lack of morality, absence of rule of law, and prevalence of misogyny in Pakistani society, nor for placing the onus of ensuring women’s safety on families and women themselves. Even more pathetic has been the defense of the CCPO by PTI Ministers and Advisors who are glossing over police responsibility in providing security.

WAF demands that the culprits be brought to book, the CCPO who is clearly unfit for the position he holds, be removed from office with immediate effect and appropriate action be taken against the area patrols who failed to respond to the woman’s call. WAF asks the authorities why the new stretch was opened for public when all arrangements of patrolling, shelter, rest areas and petrol pumps were not yet in place. Is it because photo ops are more important than fully functional services? WAF would like to remind the Punjab Chief Minister that Punjab has the highest rate of crimes of sexual violence and abuse in the country. It is his government’s responsibility to ensure the safety and security of its citizens, regardless of differences of gender, class, religion and age and neither he nor his government can afford to look the other way.

[RELATED INFORMATION: See new report in Dawn on the incident; ’Robbers gang-rape woman seeking help on motorway in Punjab’ the https://www.dawn.com/news/1578807/robbers-gang-rape-woman-seeking-help-on-motorway-in-punjab]