Federal Sexual Violence Response Framework launched

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Sexual Violence Response Framework was launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice, government of Pakistan on 27th March 2023 in Islamabad. “Legislative enactments are inadequate in face of statistics regarding sexual violence.

It is with this vision that the Ministry of Law and Justice with support of UNFPA and Legal Aid Society have developed the Federal Sexual Violence Response Framework” observed Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, Federal Minister Law and Justice on the occasion.

The FSVRF has been created to inculcate a multi-fold approach towards prevention and secondary and tertiary response to sexual violence in Pakistan. Presented by Ms. Khadija Ali, she noted that this was developed after examination of key laws, policies and precedents and collaboration with key actors and on-ground professionals. It has also been developed based on the acknowledgement that while Pakistan has been at the forefront of positive laws, policies and precedents protecting the rights of women, children and other marginalised communities in Pakistan, these have not yet been fully implemented in a holistic and coordinated manner by the administrative and criminal justice actors as revealed by Ms. Maliha Zia, Associate Director Legal Aid Society and Mr. Sharfat Ali, Advocate. Emphasising this point, Mr. Jahangir Jadoon, Advocate General, Islamabad, several positive precedents have been emerging from the superior courts of Pakistan, which have not yet been inculcated into processes and practices on ground by key criminal justice actors including police, medico-legal, prosecutors and the judiciary.

The government of Pakistan through the FSVRF demonstrates its commitment to counter this gap in action and work towards the elimination of sexual violence in Pakistan. The FSVRF is a compendium of recommended action identified by various stakeholders including government Ministries, Departments, Commissions, lawyers, civil society, police, prosecution and civil society. It incorporates requirements to implement the law and fulfill legal obligations geared towards preventing and responding to sexual violence in effective and efficient ways by the government of Pakistan.

In line with this commitment, several steps have already been taken, as was shared by Mr. Raja Naeem Akbar Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice in his opening remarks at the launch. These include the notification of 3 rules under the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021; the notification of Special Sexual Offences Investigating Units and the Anti-Rape Coordination Committees across Pakistan.

Through the FSVRF, the implementation of these initiatives will be ensured and monitored. This was also emphasised by Senator Aysha Raza Farooq, Chairperson Special Anti-Rape Committee. Noting the high statistics of violence against women in Pakistan, she highlighted the need for swift action and announced that the government with the support of UNFPA and LAS will be established 3 pilot ARCCs, which will be expanded once best practices are established.

Ms. Latika Maskey Pradha. Deputy Representative, UNFPA sharing experiences of other countries emphasised the importance of a multi-sectoral coordinated response is critical for countries such as Pakistan, where systems and processes must support each other to create the intended change in a sustainable manner. Mr. Ali Naqvi, FCDO highlighted the need to not only pass the laws and policies, but the importance of ensuring behavioural change is achieved at the grassroot level for real, actual sustainable change and elimination of sexual violence.

The launch of the FSVRF was also attended by key criminal justice actors from the police, prosecutors officer, representatives of Islamabad Bar Association and Counsel and civil society members working on the elimination of sexual violence in Pakistan.