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From collecting evidence to getting a medical report: How to report domestic violence

Learn what steps to take and how to approach the police in cases of abuse.
Published 25 Oct, 2022 06:07pm

As social media talks about high profile cases of domestic violence and abuse, it is important for people to remember that the first step to getting justice is filing a case.

Lawyer Nighat Dad shared on Twitter lessons learnt from the case of Aliza Sultan — to build evidence, to clear phones and more. Here are six steps to report domestic abuse.

Build evidence and clear out your phone

The first thing women should learn is that if they are facing domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault etc, it’s best to keep building evidence and share it with trustworthy people for safekeeping. Don’t just keep it on your own phone. This could include photographs of bruises and wounds or other forms of evidence.

Then comes the second step, which is to clear your phone of this evidence, as perpetrators in close proximity often have the tendency to surveil any physical moment and social media through your device in order to monitor your next move.

Complain to a police station and get a computerised slip

It may be very dangerous to complain against your perpetrator to the police in Pakistan and then return to the same house. However, if the circumstances allow you to do so, the third step is to complain to your local police station.

In case you are a survivor of domestic or gender-based violence, you can write a complaint on a plain piece of paper and submit it to your local police station as soon as possible. On the submission of the complaint you receive a computerised slip from the help desk at the police station.

Consider medical examination in case of injury

In case you have been injured, you have every right to be medically examined by relevant medical officials.

In case if the police station in question does not send you for medical examination, you have every right to request one. To establish your case and if need be, can seek legal help and medico-legal opinion.

Do not bathe and change clothes for accurate medical results

A form of accompanying the injured person is then prepared under Rule 25.39 of the Police Rules, 1934 and a police officer will be assigned to accompany you for medical assessment.

The second step is a medico-legal report, which will be finalised after assessment of any wounds or injuries you may have. This assessment includes an X-ray and DNA tests but is not only limited to that. However, it is advised that to get accurate results, one must not bathe or change clothes.

Medical report is used in filing FIR against the abuser

Right after the medical examination, the medical officer fills out a form, No 25.39 of the Police Rules, and then dispatches it to the police station with a medico-legal report. This helps police officers to decide on what sections from the report will be used in filing the actual FIR against the abuser.

Now your case of domestic abuse will be recorded as per relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860. It can be filed under

Section 332 (Hurt) — whoever causes pain, harm, disease, infirmity or injury to any person or impairs, disables or dismembers any organ of the body or part thereof of any person without causing his death, is said to cause hurt.

Section 337 (Shajjah) — whoever causes, on the head or face of any person, any hurt which does not amount to itlaf-­i-­udw or itlaf­-i­-salahiyyati­-udw, is said to cause shajjah.

Section 376 (Punishment for rape) — whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years or more than 25 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Legal proceedings differ according to the province

Legal proceedings might differ according to which province you are in. For example, if you’re in Sindh or Balochistan, then domestic violence is criminalised whereas for Punjab it is a civil crime under The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act.

However, all remedies regarding strict action against domestic violence in any form are mentioned in the Pakistan Penal Code.