Women or cattle?

4000 years ago, Hammurabi of Babul gave his regime a set of first ‘universal’ set of laws regulating the law and order situation under him. These laws entailed the complete guideline of crimes and their punishments accordingly. Blood for blood and an eye for an eye but there was a catch. The punishment for the same crime was different for a higher-class person than that for a lower grade citizen or a slave. Unfortunately, 4 millenniums later, similar practice can still be seen in the land of pure. In Muzaffargarh district, a 12 years old was raped by the brother of an earlier raped same-age girl who was raped by the uncle of aforementioned victim. What is more tragic that this counter rape was not ordered by any Panchayat or feudal lord but agreed upon by the both families. Ironically this incident happened near Multan, a district hosting the first ever model Women protection center constituted by Punjab Government under the Women protection ordinance.

The tragic incident of rape in response of rape is not the first of its kind in the area. In 2002, a woman was sacrificed to the same practice in the same area of Muzaffargarh. The woman was Mukhtaran Mai and her ordeal received immense national and international media coverage. This shows that the trend has not died down and there may be countless such cases in-between 2002 and 2017. Mukhtaran Mai did not succumb to her fate silently and spoke up and got justice to some extent but what of those countless who could not reach the police stations or the women protection center and were hushed away by the family pressure or silenced forever.

This is not a matter of absence of regulatory measure but their implementation and more importantly the mindset of society in this regard. Punishing a woman for the crimes committed by their brother or father or uncle as in this case simply shoes that women are being treated as a commodity that can be traded in lieu of each other and be used to settle the disputes between the so called ‘honorable’ men of the family. This is a social issue more than a legal issue because the police and law enforcement agencies can interfere only if the case is reported which can be really difficult in such cases.

There is a silver lining among all this cloud of hopelessness that once reported, the case is being pursued actively. More than 20 persons involved in the incident have been arrested by the police but the main culprits are still at large. The victims and their immediate family members will be under immense pressure to withdraw the cases and ‘forgive’ the accused but this should be prohibited by the state becoming a party on the behalf of the victims. The justice should not only be done but seen being done but most importantly, we as a society should condone the brutal acts of terrorism against women and at least raise our voices to drag the society out of this 2000 B.C mentality.

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