Pakistan: Stigma & Corruption Prevent Reporting & Prosecuting Rape
Thursday, November 17, 2011 10:35 AM

In Pakistan, victims of rape experience other forms of victimization: social attitudes often discourage women from reporting the crime because the victims are seen as dishonoring their families. This attitude creates a variety of hurdles for those seeking justice and recovery.  First, most rapes are not reported to the police, and even when they are reported, police rarely charge assailants.  Second, victims are sometimes harassed by the police when they report the crimes, or face police corruption.  Finally, families often discourage victims from seeking psychological support. 

According to both the United States Department of State Report on Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2010 report, the frequency of rape is compounded by the hesitancy of reporting the crime. The two reports state that while only 900 cases of rape were reported, almost 3000 cases of rape were documented in Pakistan in 2010. A local NGO, War Against Rape, issued a study showing that only a minority of the cases seen in hospitals are reported to the police.

In addition to claims that reporting rape brings shame and disgrace to their families, rape victims also are challenged by police disbelief and corruption. In the province of Punjab, police are accused of kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old school girl. In the Khairpur district of Sindah, a farmer explained that he was reluctant to report the rape of his 9-year-old sister because he knew that the parents of the man responsible would simply bribe the police to avoid investigation and prosecution. “I have daughters and another younger sister’s safety to consider. We cannot run the risk of further punishment,” he said. Sarah Zaman, director of War Against Rape, reported that the insensitivity and harassment victims face from police discourages reporting of the crime.

Compiled fromPakistan: Tormented by Stigma After RapeIRIN: Humanitarian News and Analysis (9 November 2011).