31st January 2023
A two-day training workshop on the Anti-Rape Act 2021, organized by the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, was held today at the KP Judicial Academy in Peshawar. 25 Additional and District Sessions Judges from across different districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participated in the event.
Director Instructions, KP Judicial Academy Ms. Wadeeya Mushtaq Malik delivered the opening remarks followed by AGHS Legal Aid Cell Executive Director Ms. Nida Aly. They noted that the purpose of conducting such training sessions is to enforce the new anti-rape laws and strengthen the judicial response in dealing with SGBV and thereby helping sexual assault survivors access justice.
The keynote speech was delivered by Ms. Farah Jamshed the Director General of the KP Judicial Academy at the closing ceremony who appreciated the trainees and presented certificates of participation.
AGHS Legal Aid Cell lawyer Fahad Malik briefed the participants about the importance of gender sensitization in SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) cases and the scope, intent, and key provisions of the Anti-Rape Act 2021.
Participants were also familiarized with the Witness Protection Act 2021 and how they can utilize it to safeguard victims and witnesses of SGBV crimes through concealing identity, re-location to safe houses and dar-ul-means, and distance recording of testimonies through video-conferencing devices.
The Additional District and Sessions Judges in attendance discussed how delayed reporting, incomplete challans & insufficient evidence presented impact their decisions in rape cases and how the new law can be utilized to tackle these issues.
Dr. Summaiya Syed Tariq, Police Surgeon in Karachi, led a virtual session on managing vicarious trauma for judges dealing with SGBV cases and how they can approach sensitive and graphic testimonies.
Attending judges praised the initiative behind the workshop, adding that the sessions were very useful for their work. Syed Ali Raza, Additional District and Sessions Judge from district Mohmand noted that “All the sessions were very productive and innovative especially the final session with Dr. Summaiya Tariq.”
He further suggested that “all judges and lawyers should be required to attend such workshops annually to enhance our capability and capacity”, especially in adjudicating sexual offence cases.
Additional Sessions Judge Syed Ali Raza further expressed appreciation for AGHS for organizing the event. ”I am very thankful to the organization for holding this workshop and would also like to say thanks on behalf of the KP judiciary. “
Lawyer Fahad Malik who delivered the training noted how judges are the first line of defence for any victim of crime. “When it comes to gender-based violent crimes, judges are perhaps best placed to provide actual justice to victims.”
“Under the law, they are the ones who are supposed to make sure that victims and witnesses feel confident in the statements that they give and that the police and other stakeholders of the judicial process perform their duties to the best of their abilities and in accordance to the law.”
AGHS Legal Aid Cell associates also expressed appreciation for the judicial academy stating that “it has been very reassuring to see that the KP Judicial Academy is working on these issues”.
The event in Peshawar is part of a series of training workshops by AGHS Legal Aid Cell to create more awareness and improve the implementation of the Anti-Rape Laws.