Damning figures in HRCP report on violence against women

18 Sep 2013


Women march during a rally on violence against women in Lahore. — Photo by AFP
Women march during a rally on violence against women in Lahore. — Photo by AFP

LAHORE: Alarming figures of increasing cases of violence against women were presented in a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report issued recently.

Violation against women is widespread in Pakistan and exists in various forms be it domestic violence and abuse, sexual abuse and harassment, acid attacks, honour killings, restricted freedom of movement to downright barring of women from casting their votes in the elections.

The Commission in its statement said: “HRCP has watched with grave concern the rising incidence of violence against women in Pakistan in recent days. Unfortunately, such incidents have always been commonplace in the country but now such reports are coming not from far-off places but from the main cities."

Several cases of rape have been reported from Punjab in the past few days, including that of a five-year old child.

To give an idea of the scale of the problem, in the city of Lahore alone, police have registered 113 cases of rape from January 1 to August 31 this year.

In the same period, police in the provincial capital of Punjab registered 32 gang-rape cases.

Most of the victims were teenage girls.

The problem in hardly confined to Punjab.

The plight of Kainat Soomro, a young rape victim in Sindh, and the excesses she has had to endure in her efforts to bring her tormentors to justice are there for all to see.

Her ordeal represents how rape victims who have the courage to pursue their rapists are left to fend for themselves.

Moreover, according to media monitoring by HRCP, until the end of July this year, at least 44 women became targets of acid attacks in the country, seven of whom had died due to their injuries.

As many as 44 women had been set on fire; 11 had died in such attacks.

Furthermore, as many as 451 women had been killed in Pakistan in the name of honour in 2013 by the end of July, compared to 918 killed in 2012.

Earlier this week, three women were shot dead by family members in the name of ‘honour’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Furthermore, HRCP is acutely concerned that risks have grown for all those who try and help the victims is any manner or try to expose the excesses.

Human rights defenders who try to highlight excesses against women have become particularly vulnerable, the statement issued by the HRCP said.

In fact, an HRCP staff member had to be relocated just a fortnight earlier because his reporting of a woman’s beating by her relatives upset the family to the extent that they threatened to kill him and started following him.

Such targeting of a section of population solely on account of gender is utterly unacceptable and it is a matter of shame that the society at large has not felt compelled to raise a strong enough voice to putting an end to this travesty, the commission said.

HRCP has called upon the state authorities to include ending violence against women and impunity for the violators to its list of priorities in order to dispense justice to half the population of the country.

The commission's statement said it hoped that these steps would include awareness campaigns and would not merely be confined to making changes in laws that then remain unenforced.