The recent repeated incidents of harassment and violence against women were too horrendous to not invoke strict action by the government. The government cannot be still and take no legislative step when a woman was assaulted at Minar-e-Pakistan by 400 men, or when another woman was sexually harassed while sitting in a rickshaw, or when there are countless cases of women and minors being raped and murdered.
The authorities have responded to these disturbing incidents by taking a number of initiatives to curb some violence and offer more protection to women. Punjab Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani on Monday has mapped out a plan for setting up an anti-women harassment and violence cell. The cell will ensure a response is given to women’s complaints within 15 minutes.
This first step, of a quick response, is aimed at prevention. Apart from this, DIG Investigation Shariq Kamal has been directed to ensure that such cases would entail prompt investigation and timely submission of challans to courts so that justice could be speedily served.
These initiatives are designed to counter a number of problems. Speedy trials and more importantly convictions can prevent the issue of habitual offenders; some of the many people behind these crimes are those who have had a similar accusation against them, but were free because of delay and neglect of investigation and trials.
Another important step is the inclusion of female police officers, as well as having Victim Support Officers, who would liaise with the affected women and be present with them during the investigation and trial hearing. One of the biggest issues is underreporting of rape cases, which lowers the deterrence for the crime. Making the police station a safer and sympathetic place for women can go a long way.a