A police chief in Pakistan has sparked protests around the country after he blamed the victim for her gang rape on Thursday. In investigating the matter, the Lahore Police Chief Umar Sheikh stated that the woman’s rape was due to her travelling late at night without a male companion. The victim was attacked after her vehicle had broken down on the Lahore-Sialkot highway during the early hours of Thursday morning, she was driving from the city of Lahore to Gujranwala with her two children. At current, the Pakistan police authorities have placed 15 suspects into custody in connection with the gang rape, reports AFP.
According to her statement, the victim stated she was waiting for help to arrive while a group of men smashed her window, dragging her out of the car and proceeded to rap her in front of her children in a nearby field. The gang of men then fled the scene with her bank cards, cash and her jewellery after they raped her. The fifteen suspects in custody that are held for questioning were not part of the group that attacked her, police told Associated Press.
Pakistan citizens protest Police
The lead investigator of the case Police Chief Umar Sheikh lambasted the rebuked the woman for driving on the highway late at night without a man to accompany her. He further added another misogynistic comment to say that people of Pakistani society would never “allow their sisters and daughters to travel alone so late”. The victim is reportedly a resident of France. Sheikh suggested that the woman “mistook that Pakistani society is just as safe”.
Pakistan Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has added her voice to the matter describing the Lahore Police Chief’s comments as “unacceptable”. “Nothing can ever rationalise the crime of rape,” she said.
“For an officer to effectively blame a woman for being gang-raped by saying she should have taken the GT Road or question as to why she went out in the night with her children is unacceptable & have taken up this issue,” Mazari tweeted.
Speaking to AFP, lawyer and women’s rights activist Khadija Siddiqi said that Sheikh’s response to the case was an unfortunate manifestation of the “very rampant” culture of victim-blaming in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s main opposition party PML-N, too, called for Sheikh’s resignation on Friday, local media reported. Meanwhile, opposition Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq gave the government a 48-hour ultimatum to produce the culprits of the crime, PTI reported.
PM Imran Khan ‘following the case closely’
Condemning the brutal attack, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote in a statement on Twitter that he was closely following the case and had directed the investigators to arrest and sentence those involved in the incident “as soon as possible”, Reuters reported. Khan added that his government would work towards strengthening laws to address the threat posed by a surge in rape cases involving women and children in recent years.
The incident had brought a bad name to Pakistan as the international media had denounced the abysmal state of security in the country, particularly for women, the letter said.
Pakistan is among the 10 worst countries when it come to rape as around 14,850 cases of kidnapping involving women, children and girls had been reported in Punjab.
Source inputs: Dawn | AFP