How many women and girls were raped in Karachi in the first six months of 2021? The answer to this question is extremely hard to reach because the government, hospitals and police don’t really make this data available.
We went looking for an answer. Our first visit was to the Police Surgeon’s office off MA Jinnah Road. The police surgeon Dr Hamid Jilani tried to convince us that most rape cases were “fake”. His theory is that they are mostly homeless, beggars who are used by powerful men to exact revenge on others. Despite us making repeated requests, he refused to share the data.
Our hope was that the Office of the Police Surgeon would have computerised collated data on the medico-legal examinations of women and girls across Karachi. A medico-legal examination to check for rape, collect samples for DNA testing and other evidence has to be done by a woman medico-legal officer (a doctor). These examinations take place in Karachi’s government hospitals, the biggest of which are Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Nazimabad, Civil Hospital, Karachi in Saddar and Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, off Shahrah-e-Faisal. (If a rape victim goes to a private hospital, the staff have to alert the police.)
Since the Police Surgeon was not very forthcoming, we took the long route and went to each of the major government hospitals. At Abbasi, Civil and Jinnah, the medico-legal officers gave us access to the “rape registers”. It is a sensitive business. We painstakingly documented each medico-legal rape exam case by date, age and police station. We did not note down the names or any other identifying aspect of the cases because it would be unethical as victim confidentiality has to be maintained.
We were able to thus pull the raw data from January to June 2021 from the three tertiary care government hospitals. A total of 302 medico-legal examinations were conducted in this time period. However, the rape registers only give a sense of an examination conducted—in no way can this be interpreted as the number of rapes. In many cases the WMLO will reach the conclusion and write the analysis that the woman or girl was raped. But in many cases, the files did not contain subsequent investigations, such as the DNA results. The rape register does not tell you how the case proceeded in court and if the men were caught and convicted. They just give us a sense of how many women and girls came forward to be examined because they had said they were raped.
This data set includes 19 examinations of apparent rape victims performed on the request of the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC), two on requisition from the Woman Police Station in Saddar and one case referred from Cantt Railway police station.
We then went to Karachi’s jails and acquired the data for the same January to June 2021 period of every man who had been brought in on a rape charge. Fortunately, the jail data gives the date of arrest, the police station and the date of conviction for rape and gang rape cases. We were unable to match each rape case to jail cases, but as you will see, both sets give us a fair sense of how police stations have been handling these cases.
The last and most crucial part of this story is a map. To the best of our knowledge, no map of Karachi’s police station jurisdictions is available for the public. We acquired maps and data from police stations and stitched it together, and verified and double checked it. Our hope is that this effort will go a long way in service of the citizens of Karachi.
What the data and mapping show us
A clear trend emerged when we mapped the alleged rape cases by police station.
The highest number of medico-legal rape examinations fell in the Korangi Industrial Area police station jurisdiction (15), followed by Sachal (12). It is working class neighbourhoods and industrial areas where women are coming forward with complaints of rape. The other police stations cover Karachi’s outskirts.
The hotspot is Karachi’s East Zone (East, Malir and Korangi districts). This area had over half of the city’s alleged rapes.
“Socio-economic burden, easy and unchecked access to the internet and poverty are the reasons behind the growing number of rape cases in the district,” District Malir Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Irfan Bahadur told Samaa Digital.
District Malir is less urban and mostly Karachi’s outskirts where an overwhelming number of people are poor and from the labour class.
“If psychological tests of the residents were conducted then you may easily emerge with the conclusion that a majority of them are experiencing frustration and depression,” the SSP said.
The SSP made the frank admission that he felt that rape in the district is under-reported. “Just the other day, I had a meeting with East-II Investigation SSP, and he told me that District Malir police is receiving 25 to 30 complaints of rape in a month," the SSP said.
Some of the rape cases are settled in a panchayat and mohalla committee and very few people decide to go to the police to register an FIR. “The only reason people avoid to lodging a complaint of rape with the police is fear of infamy,” the SSP said.
Many areas of the city are blank with no cases emerging in 27 out of the 108 police stations.
“My rough assessment is that 10 times cases go unreported,” said Dr Summaiya, the Additional Police Surgeon who runs the medico-legal section at at JPMC. “We’re not getting them from Defence… we’re not getting them from homes, like bungalows. We aren’t getting them from apartments. Why are we just getting reported rapes from katchi abadis?”
How are rape cases reported?
According to Dr Summaiya, there are two ways in which a rape case is reported. At JPMC, they will receive direct, walk-in patients. The girl or woman is brought in by their mother or father instead of the family going to the police. The JPMC ML staff conducts the exam, takes samples and records the entry at the Police Control that then informs the relevant police station based on where the family says the rape took place.
The second way a rape case can be reported is through the police station itself. The accompanied victim will come with a letter or copy of the FIR or request from the police station for a medico-legal exam to be conducted.
What does the medico-legal form document?
We learnt that the form where the medico-legal examination is documented is one of the most crucial parts of managing these cases. The old form, for example, did not mention if the victim’s clothes had been checked.
Details such as whether the victim had taken a bath after the rape (washing away evidence), had passed urine or stool, need to be documented. The form mentions marital status, including the option of divorced, because as Dr Summaiya says, even divorced women can be raped. It was not previously part of the form.
Even gait was added in the form. No one used to consider gait or how the woman was walking. “A woman who has been gang raped, how can her gait be normal?” she pointed out.
She added the number of children as the vaginal anatomy changes if a woman has had children, and whether they were born naturally or through a C-section. This has to be factored in if she says she was raped. “If a woman has had four normal deliveries, and she shows no injuries, it does not mean she was not raped,” she explained.
Dr Summaiya is a UN certified gender-based violence trainer. She explained why she made changes to add more details to the form because this is where she can catch out medical-legal staff who may be negligent or corrupt. If for example, the details documented all point to rape, but the officer did not reach this analytical conclusion at the end, Dr Summaiya knows there is something amiss. “This is where I catch them,” she says.
Dr Summaiya wishes more resources were put into properly training and paying medico-legal officers, of which there is an extreme shortage in Sindh. “They say, bring the mark of violence. Where do I get a mark of violence from?” she says referring to the way in which the law enforcement and legal authorities treat rape cases. “When you haven’t examined the patient head to toe, how can you say no mark of violence? It is a 14 year old bachi. Have you checked her elbows? You need the eye to see. You need that thing which you have between your ears. What the mind does not know, the eye does not see. Did you check the girl’s nails? Is there debris under the nails? Get the DNA tested... I had three cases in which the assailant was identified by nail debris DNA alone. And I got a conviction.”
It would take very little to fix the system, perhaps just as little as Rs500,000 for a proper software to computerise medico-legal documentation. Dr Summaiya also dreams of online testimony so that the precious few MLOs don’t need to wait at court when they are needed more at the hospitals. Rape kits cost Rs50 but even these funds are not always available. Sometimes they have to steal sheets from the Edhi ambulances so they can seal evidence. They need envelopes to be able to seal delicate evidence such as nail clippings. Dr Summaiya said that she sets aside Rs800 to buy the rape kits herself.
|Examination date||Age||Police Jurisdiction||ML Section|
|January 1||16||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|January 4||13||Civil Line||JPMC|
|January 9||22||Steel Town||JPMC|
|January 11||22||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|January 12||30||Sir Syed||ASH|
|January 12||17||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|January 15||32||Mobina Town||ASH|
|January 15||25||Sir Syed||ASH|
|January 16||80-90||New Karachi Industrial Area||ASH|
|January 18||20||Sharafi Goth||JPMC|
|January 18||16||Malir City||JPMC|
|January 20||28||Memon Goth||JPMC|
|January 21||20||Civil Lines||CHK|
|January 26||33||Mobina Town||ASH|
|January 29||8||Sharafi Goth||JPMC|
|January 30||35||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|February 1||25||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|February 1||9||Bin Qasim||JPMC|
|February 4||10||Shah Faisal Colony||JPMC|
|February 5||20||Orangi Town||ASH|
|February 5||38||Steel Town||JPMC|
|February 7||18||Aziz Bhatti||JPMC|
|February 7||9||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|February 8||24||Shah Faisal||JPMC|
|February 11||18||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|February 11||9||Sharafi Goth||JPMC|
|February 12||16||Steel Town||JPMC|
|February 13||20||Malir Cantt||JPMC|
|February 13||10||Malir Cantt||JPMC|
|February 13||28||Malir Cantt||JPMC|
|February 15||18||Gabol Town||ASH|
|February 15||14||Tipu Sultan||JPMC|
|February 16||17||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|February 16||24||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|February 16||40||Steel Town||JPMC|
|February 19||30||Gadap City||ASH|
|February 19||27||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|February 20||13||Malir City||JPMC|
|February 22||5||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|February 24||27||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|February 25||34||Mobina Town||ASH|
|February 26||16||Orangi Town||ASH|
|February 26||13||Malir City||JPMC|
|February 26||17||Steel Town||JPMC|
|March 1||14||Shah Faisal Colony||JPMC|
|March 2||18||Sohrab Goth||JPMC|
|March 4||14||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|March 4||9||Shah Faisal Colony||JPMC|
|March 4||3||Federal B Industrial Area||JPMC|
|March 5||18||Eid Gah||CHK|
|March 8||30||Mobina Town||ASH|
|March 9||8||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|March 10||25||Pakistan Bazaar||ASH|
|March 11||21||Boat Basin||JPMC|
|March 12||18||Ittehad Town||CHK|
|March 14||40||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|March 14||25||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|March 15||19||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|March 16||30||Sohrab Goth||ASH|
|March 16||17||Soldier Bazaar||CHK|
|March 17||20||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|March 17||20||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|March 18||14||Khwaja Ajmer Nagri||CHK|
|March 20||14||Pakistan Bazaar||ASH|
|March 20||40||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|March 20||9||Model Colony||JPMC|
|March 20||27||Woman Police Station Saddar||JPMC|
|March 22||23||Shah Faisal Colony||JPMC|
|March 24||14||Malir City||JPMC|
|March 25||31||Shah Faisal Colony||JPMC|
|March 26||18||Ittehad Town||CHK|
|March 26||12||Woman Police Station Saddar||JPMC|
|March 27||17||Shahrah-e-Nur Jehan||ASH|
|March 27||12||Cantt Railway Police Station||JPMC|
|March 28||15||Pakistan Bazaar||ASH|
|March 28||17||Bin Qasim||JPMC|
|March 29||16||Khwaja Ajmer Nagri||ASH|
|March 30||36||Boat Basin||CHK|
|March 30||6||Awami Colony||JPMC|
|March 31||19||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|April 2||11||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|April 5||15||New Karachi||ASH|
|April 7||22||Pakistan Bazaar||ASH|
|April 9||5||SITE A||ASH|
|April 9||23||Awami Colony||JPMC|
|April 9||22||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|April 10||13||Memon Goth||JPMC|
|April 11||14||Steel Town||JPMC|
|April 13||35||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|April 14||20||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|April 14||31||Malir City||JPMC|
|April 17||27||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|April 19||20||Baloch Colony||JPMC|
|April 22||29||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|April 23||17||Sohrab Goth||ASH|
|April 25||11||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|April 27||7||Model Colony||JPMC|
|April 29||26||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|May 1||18||Sohrab Goth||ASH|
|May 1||24||Model Colony||JPMC|
|May 1||4||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|May 4||8||PIB Colony||ASH|
|May 7||16||Shah Latif Town||JPMC|
|May 11||13||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|May 16||28||Baloch Colony||JPMC|
|May 17||10||Baloch Colony||JPMC|
|May 17||6||Sharafi Goth||JPMC|
|May 18||22||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|May 18||16||Ittehad Town||CHK|
|May 19||26||Sir Syed||ASH|
|May 20||25||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|May 20||28||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|May 20||20||Baloch Colony||JPMC|
|May 21||21||Madina Colony||CHK|
|May 21||21||Shah Latif Town||JPMC|
|May 24||7||Awami Colony||JPMC|
|May 25||12||Pak Colony||CHK|
|May 28||40||Bin Qasim||JPMC|
|May 29||19||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|May 30||19||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|May 31||42||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 1||13||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 3||17||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 3||20||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 5||13||Ibrahim Hyderi||JPMC|
|June 8||39||Bin Qasim||JPMC|
|June 9||17||Sohrab Goth||ASH|
|June 11||18||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|June 11||19||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|June 12||44||Shahrah-e-Nur Jehan||ASH|
|June 12||19||Tipu Sultan||JPMC|
|June 14||25||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|June 16||14||Shah Latif Town||JPMC|
|June 18||33||Soldier Bazaar||CHK|
|June 18||17||Soldier Bazaar||CHK|
|June 18||28||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 19||20||Zaman Town||JPMC|
|June 21||33||Malir City||JPMC|
|June 22||14||Korangi Industrial Area||JPMC|
|June 25||15||Aziz Bhatti||JPMC|
|June 26||22||Shahrah-e-Nur Jehan||ASH|
|June 30||15||Iqbal Market||ASH|
|June 30||19||SITE Super Highway||ASH|
|June 30||16||Bilal Colony||CHK|
|June 30||16||Sharae Faisal||JPMC|
|DISTRICT WEST police stations||No of rapes reported for which ML done|
|DISTRICT CENTRAL police stations||ML rape cases|
|FB Ind. Area||1|
|Kh. Ajmer Nagri||2|
|Shahrae Noor Jehan||3|
|DISTRICT CITY police stations||ML rape cases|
|DISTRICT KEAMARI||ML for rape cases|
|DISTRICT SOUTH||ML for rape cases|
|EAST ZONE police stations||ML for rape cases|
|Site S. Highway||6|
|KORANGI (East Zone)||ML for rape cases|
|Korangi Ind. Area||15|
|Shah Faisal Colony||6|
|MALIR (East zone)||ML for rape cases|
|Age in years||No of victims who had an ML in Karachi Jan-Jun 2021|