LAHORE: In 2019 and 2020, women in Punjab faced astonishingly high instances of sexual assault, harassment, rape, kidnapping and domestic violence, reporting 8,797 cases in 2020 as compared to 8,767 in 2019.

Rape was the most reported crime against women with the highest number of 4,732 cases coming from Lahore in 2020. These statistics are part of the fourth Punjab Gender Parity Report 2019 and 2020 prepared by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women. It provides a detailed view of gender parity in Punjab across six thematic areas of justice, demographics, education, governance, health, economic participation and opportunities, and special initiatives.

As per the report, Lahore also recorded the highest number of domestic violence cases in 2020 with 345 though there was an overall decrease of 3.5 per cent in such cases — from 1,158 in 2019 to 1,118 in 2020. Alarmingly, the provincial capital also reported the highest number of sex crimes in 2020 with 614 cases out of a total of 4,056 in Punjab — though an overall decrease of 0.8pc was recorded in such cases from — from 4,090 to 4,056 — from 2019 to 2020. The number of acid burning cases saw a 24pc decrease in the two years under discussion with 37 cases reported in 2019 to 28 in 2020 with Faisalabad reporting the highest number of such cases in 2020 with eight.

Kidnapping/abduction decreased by 1.7pc in the two years with the highest number of 614 cases reported in Lahore in 2020. Honour killings showed an increase of 20pc in these two years with Sargodha and Faisalabad reporting the highest numbers of 19 each in 2020.

Meanwhile, the literacy rate of women remained consistent from 2017-18 to 2018-19 with 57pc, while that of men over this period increased 1pc from 72pc to 73pc. In FY 2018-19, the literacy rate in urban areas was significantly higher for both men (82pc) and women (73pc) as compared to that of 67pc and 47pc, respectively in rural areas.

Male life expectancy in Punjab increased from 67.7 years in 2016 to 69.5 in 2020. Similarly, for women it went up from 66.9 years in 2016 to 68.3 years in 2020. Female life expectancy, however, has consistently remained lower than that of males. Total fertility rate in Punjab has also declined from 2.8 live births per woman in 2016 to 2.5 in 2020.

The report states that the Punjab Assembly consists of 369 members of which 294 (79.67pc) are men and 75 (20.32pc) women. Of the 36 provincial ministers, 34 (94.44pc) are men and two (5.56pc) women.

In 2019, Punjab’s projected population was 115 million that rose to 117.7m in 2020. Out of the 117.7m people in 2020, 59m (50.8pc) were men and 57.8m (49.1pc) women. The projected number of transgender persons in 2020 was 7,223 (0.6pc). These projections depict approximately 2m more men than women in Punjab.

Additionally, the report also provides an update on the implementation status of special initiatives taken by the government, including those part of the Women Development Policy2018, and recent legislation passed by the federal and Punjab assemblies.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2021

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