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ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner Jane Marriot together with Chairperson for the Special Committee on Anti-Rape Law and National Commission on Rights of Child, Ayesha Raza Farooq, on Monday inaugurated Anti-Rape Crises Centre of Islamabad established in PIMS for survivors of sexual violence.

A step as part of the implementation of the Anti-Rape (Trial and Investigation) Act, 2021, which ensured justice for survivors of sexual offences and the provision of services and support they may need before, during and after a trial, the centre was established 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.

Chief Guest, British High Commissioner Marriot said that the anti-rape crisis cell in PIMS Islamabad is a significant milestone in addressing gender-based violence in Pakistan. “This new anti-rape crisis facility will ensure that gender-based violence survivors are provided with quicker response services under one roof. The UK is proud to partner with Pakistan in advancing such important innovations for tackling violence,” she said.

“The first anti-rape crisis cell in PIMS Islamabad means improved forensics and faster help for survivors of violence. Truly a step in the right direction for preventing gender-based violence!” she said in a post on social media platform, X.

Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice Raja Naeem Akbar appreciated the support of all partners in establishing the centre. He stated that the centre will be helpful in addressing the critical issues of gender-based violence. He further emphasized on the establishment of Anti-Rape Crisis Centres at provincial level and importance of availability of functional ARCCS throughout Pakistan to ensure timely and effective assistance to survivors of rape.

Speaking at the occasion, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, secretary MoNHSRC said that there is also a need to ensure access to the crucial service to communities living in the outskirts of Islamabad. He stated that there should be a round-the-clock helpline or an app that can help survivors access these services and centres. He also emphasized the need for self-defense training for girls in schools, and in public.

In her remarks, Ayesha Raza Farooq said that the anti-rape committee has framed comprehensive rules to usher in a new jurisprudence ready to combat sexual violence. She added that the purpose of the crisis cells is to provide timely response and expedite justice. It provides victim-centric support round the clock.

Addressing the audience, Dr Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA Representative said that rape is an ugly crime which causes lifelong pain and psychological trauma to those who face it. “By all means, rape is a crisis which needs a collective response. We should start from prevention and awareness rising but we should also ensure a comprehensive response to help those in need. Such collective, coordinated and timely response services are absolutely necessary,” she said.

She hoped that centre will be the first building brick to a comprehensive sexual violence response and will be expanded throughout the country. “UNFPA stands ready to support the government in making these interventions meaningful and helpful for women,” she announced.

Prof Dr Rana Imran Sikandar, executive director PIMS said that the hospital is committed to every support possible to the survivors of sexual violence and to reduce their trauma through psycho social support.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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