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Justice Prevails in Rape Case

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The issue of rape is a serious matter in society and must be dealt with in accordance with the law. In recent times, there has been a reiteration of an important aspect of procedural law pertaining to the crime of rape in a sessions court in Karachi. The court found the accused guilty in a case of sexual assault on a school teacher and rejected a compromise between the accused and the victim’s father as a basis for acquittal.

According to the law, the crime of rape is not included in the list of compoundable offences as stated under Section 345 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This section expressly states that “No offence shall be compounded except as provided by this section”. However, it is not uncommon for courts to make mistakes in their judgement.

In 2012, a trial court acquitted men accused of gang rape after they reached an out-of-court settlement with the victim’s father. The Supreme Court later struck down this ruling, but similar cases continue to occur. In December 2022, the Peshawar High Court set aside the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to a man for sexual assault because he married the victim as a result of a compromise. Cultural biases and filters can sometimes lead to flawed applications of the law. In an unjust society, compounding offences can result in outcomes that are completely opposed to the principles of justice. Therefore, it is crucial that the law is strictly followed in cases of rape to ensure that justice is served and that perpetrators are punished for their crimes.

The judge in the recent case in Karachi followed the law and sentenced the defendant to 10 years in prison. This serves as a reminder that rape cases must not be dealt with leniently or through compromises, but must be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law. This is essential for protecting the rights of victims and ensuring that justice is served.

In Pakistan, the law regarding honour killing has come under scrutiny due to its apparent flaws. Honour killing is a particularly heinous form of murder where the victims and perpetrators come from the same family. This has allowed for the murderers to go free when the victim’s next of kin have ‘pardoned’ them, perpetuating a culture of impunity. Following the murder of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch by her brother, the law was amended to enhance the minimum punishment for honour killings. However, the court still has discretionary power to award punishment to the perpetrators, even if they are pardoned by the victim’s family. This amendment only increased the minimum punishment from 10 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment.

The acquittal of Qandeel’s brother on appeal by the Lahore High Court highlights the need for further revision of the law. The fact that this decision was made despite widespread public outrage is a reflection of society’s deep-rooted misogyny. In most cases of murder, the social standing of the victim’s family determines whether justice is served. If the family can be forced into a ‘compromise’, the killer is allowed to walk free. This is unacceptable and goes against the principles of justice. The law must be revised to ensure that those who commit such a terrible crime are not allowed to escape punishment. It is imperative that the law is fair and impartial and does not discriminate based on the social standing of the victim’s family. The justice system must be strengthened to ensure that those who commit crimes are punished, regardless of their social status or the wishes of the victim’s family.

In conclusion, the issue of honour killing highlights the flaws in the justice system in Pakistan and the need for further revision of the law. The current system is open to abuse and allows for perpetrators to go free, perpetuating a culture of impunity. The law must be revised to ensure that justice is served and that those who commit heinous crimes are punished.

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