Letters To The Editor

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Unreported crimes

The majority of crimes committed in Pakistan are never reported to the police. Worse still, the crimes that are reported are usually never solved. Since the last three years, the country has seen a miserable fall of reported crimes against women. As per statistics, the reported cases of violence against women across Pakistan fell over 70 per cent. But why does it continue to happen even after the society is gradually modernising and women are becoming more aware about their rights? The perceived triviality of a crime, personal connection to the culprit or fear of ongoing repercussions are among some of the key reasons why serious crimes often go by unprosecuted. Some victims are so convinced by the seeming invincibility of the culprit that they consider it largely a futile exercise to prosecute offenders. Rape is one example of a crime that is grossly underreported in Pakistan. Perhaps, it is because of the deep rooted culture of victim blaming that plagues our society. Often the family members of the victim and the society in general question sex victims in a way that lays the blame on victims themselves and suggests victims are lying by not reporting the assault immediately. Another reason can be that the investigators often make minimal to no effort to locate, identify, interrogate, or investigate suspects, leading victims to lose all hope of justice. Hate crimes are also rarely reported. Many victims fail to report such crimes for both personal and institutional reasons, with some it is fear of losing a job, one’s family or simply distrust of the police that deters them from prosecuting. Property crime is another that often goes unreported. Often this is due to the belief that the crime is not considered “important enough” to bother law enforcement officers with. Will this change, I wonder? It appears unlikely keeping in mind the fall in reported cases year after year.

Zainab Hassan,

Protection of places of worship

Places of worship and other religious sites should be sanctuaries where worshippers feel safe to practice their faith. Tragically, attacks on places of worship are occurring with greater frequency around the globe. The most recent incident of vandalism against a place of worship occurred when a Muslim crowd in Punjab attacked a Hindu temple, burning down parts of it and destroying a number of religious statues and other works of art inside. Alongside these horrific attacks, places of worship are often harmed more subtly through the misuse of registration procedures to prevent their construction or renovation, or the malicious surveillance of holy sites to intimidate worshippers. Different types of buildings and properties that are significant to religious communities, such as cemeteries, monasteries, or community centers, also have been targeted. While violent attacks on such places are typically committed by non-state actors, less overt forms of harms and restrictions are imposed by state authorities. Places of worship are an essential element of the manifestation of the right to freedom of religion or belief. In protecting the rights of all persons to worship or assemble in connection with their religion and to establish and maintain places for these purposes, states must ensure that religious places, sites, shrines, and other symbols are fully respected and protected, including when vulnerable to desecration or destruction. In recognition of the vital importance of the preservation of these sacred places, places of worship and cultural property that constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of people receive protected status during armed conflict. An intentional attack on a place of worship or cultural property may be considered a war crime. To help ensure the safety of places of worship, the government must implement programmes to train and equip local officials and communities to protect places of worship and other holy sites, especially in localities where such sites face a high risk of attack.

Omer Asif,