Anti-rape cell

Considering the high incidence of sexual violence cases, this is a step in the right direction

Photo: AFP
A much-needed Anti-Rape Crisis Cell (ARCC) has been set up in Karachi. The first-of-its-kind facility will provide survivors with legal aid, counselling and medical care. The establishment of ARCC is an important step forward in supporting victims of sexual assault and assisting them in their pursuit of justice. More importantly, it may encourage more victims to report their cases and seek legal guidance. The facility — established at the Civil Hospital on Friday — also offers residence to victims who do not want to return home. Considering the high incidence of sexual violence cases, this is a step in the right direction. The provincial government is required to establish 27 such facilities across Sindh. Given our track record with corruption, the provincial government and officials in charge must ensure that the facility operates smoothly without any interference or malpractice. Besides sensitising the staff at the facility, they must be trained to prevent any form of threats or disturbances to the victims from their abusers, particularly those living at the facility. Perhaps, the Sindh health department should collaborate with other international and local organisations and institutions working towards empowering women to provide the survivors with education and vocational training to integrate them into the larger society. This can be critical for victims with children who often stay in abusive situations for their children or the absence of financial backing. The ARCC is a significant milestone in improving safety for women, but its day-to-day functioning and maintenance will be a challenge for the provincial government. The authorities concerned must not compromise on this initiative and ensure that it serves its purpose effectively. Providing minorities access to these services promotes inclusivity, which has become imperative under the prevailing circumstances. Even though Pakistan has a long a way to go in emancipating women and guaranteeing their rights and well-being, initiatives such as ARCC offer a ray of hope amid dwindling safety and security. Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2023.

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