May 9, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed
The Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) held a capacity-building workshop on anti-rape laws for police officials on May 9, 2023.
The workshop, which is part of a series that provides training to relevant stakeholders (including police and prosecutors), was attended by over 30 police officials including gender-based violence (GBV) investigating officers (IOs).
The training is being conducted in collaboration with the German Embassy in Pakistan, which is providing assistance in raising awareness against GBV in Pakistan. The German Ambassador to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas, also attended the workshop and expressed Germany’s commitment to continue its support for initiatives aimed at combating GBV in Pakistan.
The purpose of the workshop was to educate police officials about the intricacies of the new anti-rape laws, and to raise awareness about the importance of consent and protecting the identity of rape survivors under the aforementioned law. Criminal lawyers briefed police officials about the new law in an interactive session, allowing for a better understanding of its provisions.
The new anti-rape laws were introduced in Pakistan in response to the growing number of rape cases in the country. Provisions under this law now use gender-neutral definitions, while the offence of rape is now non-bailable with a minimum punishment of 25 years. Additionally, the law requires that the identity of rape survivors be kept confidential, and the survivor’s consent is now a crucial element in determining whether a sexual act was consensual or non-consensual.
“It was quite an informative session as we learnt new things about evidence collection in rape cases and how to approach the rape survivor with dignity,” SI Anam, In-charge of GBV Cell Lahore, said.
During the workshop, police officials were encouraged to ask questions and share their experiences related to investigating rape cases.
Lawyers also apprised the police officers about the importance of consent under the new law.
Farzana, Incharge of the GBV Reporting Cell, appreciated the content of the training and said the workshop was focused on the issues which are being faced by the investigating officers on a daily basis.
“We have been told about the importance of protecting the identity of rape survivors and we were briefed in detail on how the law empowers police officers to protect the survivor’s identity. This is really important as rape survivors always demand us to hide or protect their identity,” she told Voicepk.net.
She also added that in many cases women withdraw rape cases when their identity gets revealed.
AGHS in collaboration with the German Embassy in Pakistan has launched a workshop series to train government officials including judges, prosecutors and police, in the effective application of the anti-rape law.
AGHS has also conducted training sessions for independent support advisors aware of their responsibilities and powers given in the act.
“Since January 2022, AGHS has conducted over 15 training sessions with members of district judiciary, police IOs and public prosecutors throughout the country. In these training sessions over 350 officials were trained and aware of the intricacies of the new law,”
said Tamara Saleem, in charge of the training program.
She also mentioned that the core purpose of the training module is to impart gender sensitivity to the officials.