Accountability for Rape: A Case Study of Lodhran

Rape remains a persistent problem in Punjab, with an upward trend in reported cases between 2015 and 2016. However, despite increased reporting, conviction rates remain low, with nearly 96% of accused individuals being acquitted in 2016 and 2017. This study aims to identify the challenges faced by victims/complainants in seeking accountability for rape, particularly in the court of first instance. To conduct the study, a two-tiered sampling technique was used. First, Lodhran was selected as the sample district due to its high number of acquittals. Then, a suitable sample size of case files was selected for analysis. Data on the total number of cases registered and decided by the courts in 2016 and 2017 was obtained from the Public Prosecution Department, Government of Punjab. The study examines various aspects of the legal framework governing rape in Pakistan and identifies several factors contributing to the high acquittal rate, including delays in the timeline of the case, witness testimony, medical and forensic evidence, the conduct of the victim, and miscellaneous factors such as a lack of uniform format of judgments and reliance on legal precedent.

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