How Many Rapes Per Day In Karachi?

Posted on September 16, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Women
51 Comments
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Adil Najam

Sometimes you see a headline that just stops you in your tracks and makes you wonder. I saw such a headline in The Daily Times today: “At Least 100 Rapes in Karachi a Day.

Art by Abro: Violence againat Women

The story is reporting a statement by Dr. Zulfiqar Siyal, Additional Police Surgeon (APS), Karachi, where he claims that on average, 100 women are raped in Karachi every 24 hours. It takes a little careful reading to realize that he is not saying that this is the number of actual rapes per day, but that he thinks that it must at least be this much and possibly more. In fact, he himself points out that the number of reported rapes are much less, because of the social stigma of reporting such a crime.

I have no reason to is agree with the statement from the APS. Indeed, I have plenty of reason to believe that he is right and that the real number of rapes must be much more. But I did want to make sure that readers interpret the news report properly. Excerpts from the report.

On average, 100 women are raped every 24 hours in Karachi city alone, and a majority of them are working women, said Additional Police Surgeon (APS) Dr Zulfiqar Siyal. A majority of them are working class women or those working as domestic help and are mostly up to 20 years old, he said.

“I am saying with full authority that such a large number of rape cases happen in the city,” he told Daily Times on the sidelines of a discussion on sexual violence organised by the Aurat Foundation on Monday. “But very few rape survivors have the courage to come forward in search of justice.” They do not come forward because of the lengthy medical process and delayed justice system in Pakistan. Only 0.5 percent of cases are reported and the majority (99.5 percent) of survivors prefers to stay silent.

Part of the problem is that there are 11 medico-legal sections in three major public sector hospitals but there are only six women medico-legal officers (WMLOs) for the 18 million population of Karachi. “I am sure that there are more than 100 rape cases every day … but you can gauge how many are reported from the official data which says that during the last eight months (between January to August 2008) a total of 197 cases were reported,” Dr Siyal said. The WMLOs also face a lot of problems, he said. Karachi is also short on hospitals where rape survivors can go through the entire medical examination. “It isn’t just medical facilities but you won’t find a single women police officer (WPO) in any of the total 101 police stations of the city,” he said.

I think that even more important than the number he gives is the point he makes about the majority of rape victims in Karachi being working class women or those working as domestic help, 20 years old or younger. My own sense would be that the situation is not much different anywhere else in Pakistan, whether in terms of the numbers or in terms of who the victims are. I am very glad that the APS has spoken up. I wish more people would, including more victims. However, I can understand all the reasons why many victims do not. As in many societies, this crime persists because the social stigma is attached to the victim even more than the culprit. It is but one aspect of the deeper scars of violence against women.

As with so many other crimes against humanity, rape this a crime that thrives on silence. Not only the silence of the victim, but the silence of society. When, as in this case, the silence is broken, one feels empowered. One hopes that others will break the silence too.


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Also see:

Silent Against Domestic Violence
Violence Against Women: Breaking Down Walls
Being Woman in Pakistan
Celebrating the Lives of Pakistani Women
Changing Rape Laws in Pakistan

51 responses to “How Many Rapes Per Day In Karachi?”

  1. ShahidnUSA says:

    I agree with Tina,
    My comments were little too insensitive and was not well thought out but I still think if the victims join the support groups and counselling, it may help them to cope in later stages.

  2. Affan says:

    Well even one rape is one too many and the number will be exacerbated because rapists knows that there is a big chance that they would get away with it! If 90% of rapes do get unreported then it is deplorable to say the least. We need to remove this stigma from our society that a woman becomes impure when she gets raped. When society becomes more acceptable of rape victims, and women know that they would not lose their honor and respect, and when our men start realizing its ok to marry a rape victim then women would not be as afraid seeking for justice and that would at least deter some of the rapists from fear of getting caught.

  3. Parveen says:

    Some of this discussion is quite silly.

    In every society, many women do not report rape because of the stigma. In Pakistan this has to be more. If there is one rape that is one too many. But there are clearly too many!

  4. blueandgrey says:

    ShahidnUSA,
    this linkof dos and don’ts might help. It may not be complete but it does give a good idea of what to do and what not to do. Each of those dos and donts have very good reasons for them. In addition to this, you may want to consider this.

    A rape victim is someone whose control over her own life was completely taken away from her by the rapist. By telling her that she must get over it or that this will only make her stronger, we are snatching away from her, the right to feel as she does, or the right to heal at her own rhythm. This is an additional way of taking control away from her and only adds to the initial trauma.

    I think that the bottom line here is that there are alternatives to thinking that a rape victim should either throw herself from a cliff or that she should get past it because it will make her stronger. There are sensitive, respectful ways of supporting a rape victim that will help her rebuild her rebuild her life at her own rhythm and won’t add to the trauma she is already experiencing.

    ps: and here is another link. This one describes different stages. Once again, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I agree with Tina regarding getting help from places like a crisis/counselling center.

  5. Dude says:

    “100 rapes a day! And very soon you will have an apologist coming up with statistics showing that New York has more rapes per hour than what you have in Karachi per day.”

    Indeed. Consider me that apologist.

    The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (http://www.hrcp-web.org) compiles statistics for each year. You can find them in their Publications section. For 2007, there were a total of 731 reported rapes across the country. For the previous year, it was 800-900.

    Two years ago, the following BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/61485 90.stm) was brought up on some forums, replete with Muslim bashing (in the forums – not the article), because it said that in Pakistan a woman is raped every two hours, and gangraped every eight. There

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