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Pakistan: NCSW and members of IHI disappointed at the verdict of Supreme Court in Mukhtaran Mai case

23 April 2011

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Government of Pakistan
- National Commission on the Status of Women

NCSW Press Release

Islamabad

Date: - 21-04-2011

Subject: NCSW and members of IHI disappointed at the verdict of
Supreme Court in Mukhtaran Mai case

The National Commission on the Status of Women and members of Insani Huqooq
Ittehad, including PODA, Mehergargh, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari,
Ethno Media, Pattan and SPO convened an emergency meeting to express deep
shock and disappointment at the verdict given by the superior court in the
Mukhtara Mai gang rape case today. Although the judgment did prove that
Mukhtara was raped because one accused did get life imprisonment, while
others were acquitted. We are surprised to see why only one accused was
punished and others were acquitted on a charge of ‘gang rape’.

The Commission and members of civil society felt that this was the
reflection of a biased and inefficient criminal justice system. This case
has been a classic example of how the facts were distorted and documentation
of the evidence was tampered with at all levels.

The group expressed concern at the long delays to dispense justice. The
victim was raped in 2002 on the instructions of the local Panchayat. In
2005 the chief justice of the superior court took suo moto notice of the
case. Despite the intervention it took more than nine years to come up with
this decision, which is a source of concern for the women of Pakistan. It
is feared that this decision might further strengthen the anti women
parallel legal and judicial systems and mechanisms in the country. We feel
that the criminal justice system too is not pro women and is patriarchal in
nature. Impunity is the order of the day.

In cases of complaints women victims are burdened to provide series of
evidences which is not possible for them. It is the responsibility of the
police to do the investigation and come up with the requisite
evidence. Currently,
methods of recording evidence by police are biased against women; and that
is one reason that they do not get justice from the courts.

There is also a need to look at the women’s representation in all those
systems and mechanism dealing with matters of crimes and justice. Women’s
lack of proportionate representation in lower and upper judiciary is paving
the way for verdicts against women victims. There is dire need to start a
rational discourse on the lack of women’s representation within the courts.

Today’s judgment has shaken the confidence and sense of security of women of
Pakistan to stand up for their rights. It reflects a faulty investigation of
the police and the loop holes that are left intentionally to side with the
power brokers. The outcome of Mukhtara case discourages survivors of rape
and gang rape to report. However, we are proud of Mukhtara Mai, who stood
bravely against all intimidation and harassment and has refused to buckle
under life threats. She has given a message of courage and hope to all women
victims of our country. We consider her a role model for women of Pakistan.

At the end we also condemn the insensitive and pathetic attitude of some
sections of media, who were grinning at the verdict and clapped after they
recorded the responses on the judgment. The owners and editors of these
media houses are urged to inculcate responsible and sensitive attitude in
the practices of such chauvinistic reporters.

House No.39, Street 56, F/6-4, Islamabad. Phone: 92-51-9224875, Fax:
92-51-9224877 URL: www.ncsw.gov.pk

- 
Tahira Noor,
Manager
Media/Communication/Advocacy
National Commission on the Status of Women-Pakistan
Government of Pakistan

House 39, Street 56, Sector F-6/4
Islamabad - Pakistan 44000
Phone: +92-51-9224875,9209885
Fax: +92-51-9224877

comms at ncsw.gov.pk
www.ncsw.gov.pk