Rape: A horrendous and dreadful act. It’s a crime that drowns a smile in an ocean of tears and later if one manages to survive, it plays havoc inside out. Apparently, all seems intact except the soul that woefully tarnishes completely yet the life has to goes on.
Thanks to the Sindh assembly, for making a sane decision for the first time by unanimously passing a resolution that makes DNA test mandatory in rape cases so that perpetrators could be led to justice. Not just this, it also took the responsibility of bearing the expenses of the test.
Building DNA Labs for Sample Collection- Too Costly an Aim?
Unfortunately, there is no such lab in Karachi or the entire Sindh, so those who spoke in favor of the resolution have called for establishing a laboratory in Sindh, especially in Karachi. So much is being done so that speedy dispensation of justice could be ensured instead of sending the DNA samples to laboratories in Lahore and Islamabad for testing.
But the question arises that a government, always short of funds and good with passing resolutions only and never acted in favor of its people whenever time demanded, what phenomenal could be expected here as well? At the same time there is a need to have a National DNA Database center. But, can government really spare some budget for this? Sadly, nothing seems much of a possibility without a proper funding mechanism.
Who would rise against a Rich Perpetrator?
In Pakistan, mostly rape incidents happen in cases where the victim is a poor girl of a farmer or laborer; the clichéd part is that culprits are usually from the affluent section of the society. Without sounding pessimistic, let us ask in all honesty if we have seen any rape victimizer hung for the crime?
And so considering our past performance, what would DNA tests do if the culprit is a wadera’s son or a wadera himself? In a system, where rich rule and poor are defied even one proper meal, what better could be expected in the name of justice? Can we hope that DNA samples would do their “ miracle”? Especially with a population that is told to hideaway with shame after the misfortune strikes and is hardly aware of steps to be taken after the rape, to preserve the evidence.
Four Male Witnesses as per Shariah Laws:
Even if the girls family manages to produce four male witnesses of the incident according to the Shariah Law, which is quiet possible in cases of authoritarian rule in villages. But where there is no law except the word of the well-heeled lords, and the criminal act is done in public without any fear, what are the options there? For instance, if a girl is kidnapped and is under the security of personnel guards or local police, this heinous act is conducted, then are witnesses willing to speak or dare to come to the court?
Although, we expect all the provinces to pass such resolution on DNA test to provide justice to the rape survivors, but can parallel justice methods of JIRGA or Panchayat in the provinces allow this scientific advancement to over shadow their egoistic decision. With so much advancement in science and technology, we are still in a cave-world patriarchal rule, where men always dominate and subjugate the women. Unfortunately, advancement in science cannot teach humanity.
Is DNA the final Authority?
In late 80s DNA evidence has been hailed as one of the most advanced method in forensic investigations, a century after finger prints were introduced. The virtues of DNA could do miracles as science has already proved. But recently, the Council of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan, a constitutional body, ruled that Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sample is not acceptable as primary evidence in case of a rape. However, they can be used as secondary or supporting evidence. This means DNA sample as ”Sole” evidence has been discarded.
In the west, an entire new phenomenon has evolved called DNA-rebuttal and number of people have either had convictions overturned or secured not-guilty verdicts in trials that looked certain to end with the opposite conclusion. William Thompson, a criminologist specializing in DNA-based forensics at the University of California, criticizes what he calls “the rhetoric of infallibility” surrounding DNA profiling. The reasons associated with it are: Juries are ill-equipped to understand the scientific data and in case DNA samples are mishandled, contaminated or wrongly analyzed, the results could lead to probabilities, and probabilities cannot be put on human “LIFE”.
Hence, it is generally believed that wherever human are involved, there is always potential for mistakes. And especially in our system, due to lawlessness and other ills, this potential increases manyfold. Also, DNA sampling as a sole evidence to rape is more likely to inhibit survivors from coming forward than otherwise.