App for GBV survivors

Published May 24, 2024

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The latter world has accepted lethal forms of GBV: sexual exploitation, ‘honour’ killings, intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. Last year, research by Pakistan’s Demographic and Health Survey and the UNFPA showed that 39pc of women in Pakistan, between 15 and 49 years, faced abuse, and 80pc of married females endure domestic violence.Statistics show that shouting is most prevalent at 76pc, with slapping at 52pc, pushing 47pc, and kicking 40pc in physical abuse. In this dire scenario, the launch of a mobile application to assist survivors of gender-based brutality can prove invaluable. Humqadam, developed by Shirkat Gah — Women’s Resource Centre in partnership with the National Commission on the Status of Women, will help women who cannot turn to their families, and bolster the capacity building of law enforcers and health departments. In addition, national and provincial resources and operational services in 16 districts are also listed for victims, alongside data for policymaking.

But the high volume of incidents — over 63,000 reported GBV cases in the past three years — reflects that the app will struggle to succeed if it functions in isolation. As all provinces are equipped with laws for domestic violence, far-reaching structural reforms, which focus on a societal shift through comprehensive training, sensitisation, recruitment of female police, and resources for law enforcement and officers of the court, are essential. Moreover, awareness drives must evolve so that people can challenge customs. It is only then that Humqadam can help battle the curse of GBV and actually make a difference. Ithas the potential to facilitate a timely response and build deterrence and security measures through vigilant execution. The state must make good on its promise to Pakistan’s women — a life of protection and dignity, where girls and women have nothing to fear.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024

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