The recent decision to allow a rapist to go unpunished after he married his victim is a slap in the face of human rights. A local jirga facilitated an out-of-court settlement between the families of the victim and the offender.
This settlement is a clear reflection of the deep-rooted patriarchal mindset of society. Women are often treated like subjects with no voice or choice. The ruling is a step backwards in terms of ensuring justice, and a step forward in normalising the rape culture.
This is an absurd development, especially in the context of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where women’s lives are often controlled by their male guardians under the pretext of socio-religious obligations. Another serious issue faced by the rape survivors is the social stigma that forces them to stay quiet about the heinous crime.
The situation is alarming as, according to recent reports, a woman is raped in Pakistan every two hours. More than 21,000 women were reported to have been raped in just last four years and the unreported cases outnumbered the reported ones.
The patriarchal mindset prevailing in all sections of society cannot be turned overnight, but providing justice to the victim is essential under all circumstances.