Seminars and Workshops Exploring the Challenges and Barriers Towards Access to Justice of Rape Survivors in Pakistan


Topic of Research Seminar: Exploring the Challenges and Barriers Towards Access to Justice of Rape Survivors in Pakistan

Abstract: Violence against Women is a global pandemic and it is a fundamental violation of human rights. Globally, nearly 30%, of women have been subjected to physical or sexual violence and 38% women experience this once in their lifetime in the global south. Rape is the most under-reported form of sexual violence and there is an increasing emphasis on responding to the needs of rape survivor’s within Pakistan’s criminal justice systems. From 2020-2021 at least 11 rape cases were reported daily in the country and the conviction rate was recorded to be only 2-4%. The literature review has shown that prosecution and conviction rates for sexual offences, such as rape, are not increasing despite the prevalence of strict laws, and that the criminal justice system procedures are distressing and traumatizing for survivors. This study focuses on access to justice for rape survivors and efforts towards reliving the plight of women fighting for their due rights by exploring the challenges faced by women while reporting a rape case. These identifications, in the study, are supported through the experiences of all stakeholders involved in due process and journey of access to justice i.e. rape survivors, lawyers, police officials and activists. The study, through a theoretical as well as a conceptual framework is based on the findings of Procedural Justice Theory. The research under qualitative design takes on an exploratory nature, using an interpretive approach to analyze the research problem. In-depth interviews and interview guide construct the research method and instrument design for data collection respectively. Furthermore, the thematic analysis of data leads to significant results showcased as the findings of this study. Results signify that the study answers all proposed research questions by exploring the challenges and barriers in pursuit of justice and highlighting the reasons behind low rates of reporting and conviction. With the confirmation of the presence of three major themes and twelve sub-themes, it shows the hurdles created at individual, societal and institutional levels in avoidance of reporting and delays of existing rape cases – Such as patriarchy; victim blaming; pre and post case trial experiences like FIR registration, medical examination and adjournments on multiple accounts; and lack of specialization and use of special measures for sensitive cases. Analysis reveals commonalities in ways that the society and justice system fails to avert, investigate, prosecute and punish culprits of sexual violence. These findings contribute to the knowledge of procedural justice with the experiences of the survivors through different stakeholders and the normative representations of social constructs creating natural hurdles.

Subject Field of Topic: Development Studies

Name of Speaker: Sheeba Tariq

Professorial Rank of Speaker: Lecturer

University Email of Speaker:

Affiliation of Speaker: NUST School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NUST-S3H)

Date and Venue: November 24, 2022, 1100-1230 hrs, S3H Conference Room, School of Social Sciences and Humanities (S3H), NUST Islamabad Campus.