On the evening of December 9th 2022, 50-year-old Katerina Perrakis was attacked by one of her employees. Katerina owns a greenhouse in Ierapetra, Crete in Greece, where she had hired an un named 33-year-old Pakistani as a labourer. On this fateful day, the Pakistani went home after finishing work, took a bath, changed clothes, picked up a knife and returned to the greenhouse. Once there, he jumped Katerina, attacked her brutally, and threatened her with the knife. After coming out of the initial shock, Katerina started to scream for help which shocked the attacker, and he ran away, leaving her bruised and battered. The attacker was later arrested and the case will come up for hearing today at a court in Crete. The 33-year-old is accused of attempted rape, causing dangerous bodily harm, carrying a weapon and using a weapon. According to Katerina, she has been receiving phone calls non stop from the attacker, who has managed to get his hands on a mobile phone, and keeps trying to convince her that he didn’t mean to rape her. The accused hails from Punjab, Pakistan.
On September 9, 2023, a 60-year-old woman in Menetis, Rhodes in Greece reported that she was attacked by a dark-skinned man wearing a white shirt and turquoise short pants. The man attacked her while she was out walking her dog, threw her to the ground and raped her. The 24-year-old Pakistani was arrested on the beach of Pigadia and identified by the survivor. The attacker hailed from South Punjab, Pakistan.
In June 2023, two Pakistani men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of an 18-year-old British tourist to Crete last year. The attackers aged 27 and 28 had confessed to the crime when arrested, but later claimed the sex was consensual.
These are only some incidents which involved seemingly common people waiting for a vulnerable moment faced by women in foreign lands, before they attack and make them a victim of their depravity. Rape is a crime which is not limited to any one race, colour or nationality. However, in Pakistan, this has become part of their social and cultural fabric. Punjab is the largest province of Pakistan, both in terms of area and population. It is in this province that this depravity is on its peak. Be it small towns or larger cities, be it villages or work places, Pakistani Punjab has made a name for itself for all the wrong reasons once again. According to data provided by the Punjab Information Commission, 1600 reported cases of rape came forward during the first 6 months of 2022. More recently, advocacy organisation War Against Rape reported that as many as 21,900 women reported rape cases existed in the past 4 years, which means that 1 woman was raped every two hours in the province. According to report by another advocay organisation called the Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), a total of 10,365 cases of violence against women were reported to the police between January and April 2023, whereas the number of unreported cases was much higher than this number.
“SSDO believes that the actual frequency of unreported cases may be even higher, as many people are unlikely to report such cases to the police due to social stigmas and lack of faith in law enforcement,” said Syed Kausar Abbas, SSDO Executive Director.
In terms of violence against children, SSDO reported a total of 858 cases where minors faced sexual attacks.
In 2022, a documentary recorded responses of men from different walks of life, educated, small business owners, common labourers, lawyers, mostly from Punjab. All of these responses had one thing in common, i.e. the woman asked for it. There seems to be a general sense of resignation which these man suffer from, as they have read in Quran that each woman will take 70 men to Jahannum with her, that when Muhammad was visiting Allah during Shab e Mairaj, he witnessed and narrated that he saw Jahannum was heavily populated with women. Therefore they have conveniently made up their minds that it is always the woman who is presenting the opportunity and the motive, as it is her fate to be promiscuous and hell bound.
In addition the ideological and social normalisaiton to rape, there is also the cultural part. In all Pakistani Punjab villages and small towns, it is considered normal for a boy to have his first few sexual encounters with animals, or non animate objects. Local newspapers print related news frequently, which talk about a goat, a donkey, a buffalo, even a chicken. The other related menace is that of child labour, where both minor boys and girls are subjected to sexual abuse and rape after their parents sell them into bonded labour in houses and workplaces. Since Punjab has a large rural area which is run by feudal lords, the number of children working as bonded labour is also much higher. Additionally, the farmers of these areas are usually heavily indebted and subdued by the ruling class, and their women are treated in the same manner as cattle. This mentality is transferred into each cadre of this male oriented society, which translates to women being used as ’tilling land’ by all men. The law enforcement agencies are not of much help as firstly the same mindset prevails among all men, specially those of authority, and secondly the various ordinances introduced by former dictator Zia ul Haq have diluted the crime of rape to such an extent that it is next to impossible to convict men of rape. Under his governance, the idea of rape was blended with adultery and fornication. The Zina Ordinance (one of the six parts of Hudood Ordinance) fused rape, adultery and fornication to have a single meaning. The law was amended in 2006 by giving a separate definition to rape as it is today. But the former is more ingrained in the system and regularly plays its part in making rape more the fault of the woman than heinous crime by men.
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