GUJRAT: As many as 41 women were murdered on the pretext of ‘preserving honour’ and over domestic disputes in Gujrat during 2017.

The number has increased from the previous year’s 35. In 2013, around 51 women were murdered followed by 36 in 2014.

According to data collected from the district police office, most of the women had been slain by their kin and the complainants in these cases were also family members. However, there was no conviction in these cases as the complainants would reconcile with the suspects.

Most of these murders occurred in rural areas in the jurisdictions of Jalalpur Jattan Saddar, Kunjah, Daulat Nagar and Dinga police stations. The police stations in recently urbanised areas located in the outskirts of the city also reported an alarming number of cases of violence against women. Three women of a family were killed for ‘honour’ in the Civil Lines police precincts besides a few others over the year.

There were 38 cases of women’s murders reported to various police stations in 2017 as compared to 34 in 2016. Some unidentified bodies were also recovered during the last year who did not belong to Gujrat district, including the recently solved blind murder of a woman who belonged to Rawalpindi.

Women were also killed over marriage disputes, domestic issues and various other reasons. A senior police investigation officer told Dawn that he believed culture and traditions were the main reason behind violence against women. He stressed effective legislation and awareness campaigns to contain such violence.

He added that out of the 38 registered cases, suspects nominated in 36 had been arrested and sent behind bars, but such suspects would often be released on technical grounds mainly due to pardoning by and reconciliation with complainants, who were mostly the victim’s relatives.

Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin, chairman of the Punjab Higher Education Commission, says Pakistan had high prevalence of violence against women owing to various factors such as a patriarchal society where gender inequality at various levels was accepted as a norm. Men had assumed higher status in society irrespective of caste, creed, finance and education, he stressed.

“Pakistani society is complex with various ethnic groups, but when it comes to gender inequality almost all groups, classes and sects seem to follow this rule -- although intensity varies. Men are taught that they are superior, and the structure of society has been evolved and developed to give men more power. This unequal power lies at the root of violence against women,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2018

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