A recent BBC report highlights a rape in Pakistan that went viral, coming to light when a reader shared the video with BBC Urdu with a plea for help.
Sadia*, the victim, remained silent at first. Only when the video of her being gang-raped became widely circulated did she have the courage to approach the authorities. Four suspects have been arrested, with the trial underway. So far though, the video remains out there as she stays shut at home due to the stigma the act entails.
The above raises the bigger question about how many more such victims continue to suffer in silence. More importantly, it raises questions about cyber crime laws and their inability to protect the citizens’ basic rights.
According to the report, with the rise in access to technology across Pakistan, the video continues being shared via Bluetooth and Facebook, it is alleged. Needless to say, there is no pertinent legislation to prevent this from happening.
In a small village like Sadia’s, almost everyone may have seen the video. She has been forced to discontinue her studies, ashamed of having to face the society, despite being the victim.
“A lot of people are watching this video for fun, they see it as something interesting.” She says, despairingly.
The suspects are being prosecuted for kidnapping, gang-rape and distribution of pornography. Although police say that they have contacted the government to get the video deleted from websites, cyber crime experts say that no such law exists in Pakistan.
In such cases, the suspects are often tried under clauses from sexual harassment, defamation or criminal intimidation laws. Clauses on the violation of privacy from Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO) are also invoked.
In light of the above, it is surprising to note that a holistic cyber crime ordinance had been allowed to lapse four years ago before it could become the law. With a lack of political or social will power to combat this issue, a new law could be a long way off.