By Ahmed Saeed
Over 20 men, women, and transgenders attended the training and were briefed about various aspects of the new legislation.It was part of a series of training workshops for all relevant stakeholders including police and prosecutors.
Under discussion were the key provisions of the Anti-Rape Act 2021 such as rape and consent as defined under this law, & possible solutions to existing barriers to implementation.
AGHS Women Protection Officer, Robina Shaheen said that it was important to give awareness about the new rape laws or the Anti Rape Ordinance 2020.
“We have invited first responders, and those who have direct connection and communication with the community,” she explained. “We have also ensured all communities are represented including religious minorities and transgenders.”
Advocate Sadia Malik, High Court lawyer and AGHS associate explained the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
“This workshop is part of a series of other workshops where we introduce new laws to the participants,” she said. “Service providers have a different role they tend to communicate directly with the community. Survivors usually come directly to them, and we are getting some very good questions and engagement from them here.”
Lawyer Tamara Saleem highlighted the importance of independent service providers under the new law and explained the provisions of the law.
“Under Section 11 in the new anti-rape Act – (Investigation & Trial) – the role of Independent Support Advisors (doctors, lawyers, paralegals, social workers, NGOs, etc) has been defined,” she said. “When a survivor approaches the Anti-rape Crisis Cells for a case or a medicolegal, and it is determined that the survivor needs support, they attach an individual with her or him.”
The participants said that such training workshops help them to refresh their knowledge of the law.
“Whenever there is a tragedy – a rape or a murder, no one has any information about the laws. For us this is an opportunity to learn and to give this information to the community too,” said Neeli Rana, a representative of the transgender community. “Fifteen years from now no one knew anything about the law, today we keep bringing awareness to the community as the law changes. Before this there were a lot of problems – the case would be filed under Section 377 (Unnatural Offences). Today under the new law, the rape survivor is being heard and it is recognized as rape. But it is integral that this law is implemented.”
The training session was followed by an interactive Q&A session in which the participants shared their experiences and challenges in providing help to rape survivors.