Islamabad, 15 January, 2024 (GNP): In a significant stride towards addressing sexual violence and fortifying justice for survivors, the first Anti-Rape Crisis Cell (ARCC) was inaugurated at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Monday.
The establishment of this cell aligns with the implementation of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act, 2021, a crucial step towards expediting justice and providing comprehensive support to survivors.
Jointly initiated by the ministries of health and law and justice, with support from the UK government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Legal Aid Society, the ARCC at PIMS will serve as a vital resource for survivors of sexual violence.
According to the Anti-Rape Act, these cells are mandated across districts to facilitate survivors’ access to various services, including the prompt registration of first information reports (FIR), evidence collection, and medical examinations within six hours.
First Anti-Rape Crises Cell of Islamabad established in PIMS
Islamabad by the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Health with the support from the UK Government, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Legal Aid Society.@nhsrcofficial @las_pakistan@JaneMarriottUK @UNFPA pic.twitter.com/7F3BJb4XlL
— Ministry of Law and Justice (Official) (@ministry_law) January 15, 2024
Raja Naeem Akbar, the secretary of the law ministry, highlighted the significant impact of sexual violence on survivors and stressed the need for swift medico-legal services.
He affirmed the government’s commitment to establishing similar Anti-Rape Crisis Cells nationwide, working collaboratively with provinces to ensure timely and effective assistance for survivors.
Secretary of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, emphasized the proposal for a 24/7 helpline or app to facilitate survivors’ access to services, considering the stigma associated with reporting rape. He also advocated for self-defense training for girls in schools.
Ayesha Raza Farooq, chairperson for the Special Committee on Anti-Rape Law and National Commission on Rights of Child, expressed the government’s goal of ensuring every citizen, especially women, can claim public spaces without fear of sexual violence.
Dr Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA representative, termed rape a crisis requiring a collective response and expressed hope for the expansion of the Anti-Rape Crisis Cell model throughout the country.
Dr Rana Imran Sikandar, Executive Director of Pims, assured a holistic and respectful approach to addressing rape cases, prioritizing care and confidentiality throughout medical examinations.
Recent reports by Sahil and the National Commission for Human Rights underscore the urgency of such initiatives, citing alarming statistics on sexual abuse and gender-based violence in Pakistan. The inauguration of the ARCC at PIMS marks a pivotal step towards fostering a safer environment for survivors and streamlining the process of seeking justice for sexual violence victims.