Violence against women

Published November 11, 2013

THE recent report that a young man stabbed 25 to 30 women in Sahiwal district within a month is extremely alarming. Most women, as a result, are now afraid of stepping out of their home.

Most incidents happened after sunset. Schoolgirls were also attacked while they were going home after school.

A hospital reported receiving the first case on Oct 6 and thereafter kept receiving two or three cases on a daily basis.

Violence against women is common in Pakistan. According to an estimate, Pakistan is the world’s third-most dangerous country for women as 90pc women face domestic violence; more than a 1000 women are victims of honour killings and earn 83pc less than men. These are the indicators that reflect the miserable condition women face on a daily basis.

The World Economic Forum’s Index for 2013 has also confirmed Pakistan as one of the worst performing countries in the world in terms of gender gap and inequality, as it stands at the 135th position.

ABDUS SAMAD Sahiwal

Case registration

ACCORDING to the 2012 report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, around 1,000 women are killed in the name of honour every year. Along with other factors, the Jirga system and the existing laws of the Hudood Ordinance (for adultery), Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money) has supported violence against women.

It is important to note that with the emergence of these laws, violence against women has increased. As per the report of the commission of inquiry for women, “In the period of the promulgation of the Hudood Ordinance, there were only a handful of reported cases of adultery, but after the declaration of the Hudood Ordinance allegations of adultery started into thousands.”

In some places, adultery cases made the majority of cases. Data from women police stations in Karachi shows that around 89 pc cases registered were under this law.

It seems from the available data that these laws are still used to control and punish women. The Hudood Ordinance was criticised severely at different forums as it was found that in cases if a woman could not prove rape or gang rape, she was accused of adultery and confined. The need was realised to reform the law and pleaded continuously by human right activists/organisations nationally and internationally. In 2004, few reforms were made in the ordinance.

However, it failed to make any significant change in the situation. The number of violence against women cases remains consistent or has even increased since the last 10 years.

It is the responsibility of the government to provide proper protection and support to women. Our religious leaders should also play their role positively in preaching to the people about Islamic values and women rights that strongly condemn violence against women.

MARZINA KHAN San Francisco, US

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