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PESHAWAR, Jan 17: A major section of society still thinks due to lack of awareness that violence against women is a 'family matter' and that thinking has led to social acceptance of it, according to an Aurat Foundation study.

'In a society where violence against women is tolerated, many women have even no awareness whether they have human rights equal to men,' revealed the study, which is part of the five-year programme of Aurat Foundation under which the non-governmental organisation monitors and collects data of violence against women.

During the study done in Peshawar, Quetta, Sargodha, Lahore, Hyderabad, Gujranwala and Karachi, married men and women were asked questions about awareness, reasons, obstacles and generalpercepuon about gender-based violence.

When asked whether they had the right to refuse to have sex with their husband, women said it was not acceptable as they were taught to obey their husbands and thus, the right to say no didn't lie with them.

Programme officer Aurat Foundation Sherin Javed, who presented the study's findings during a function, said the survey was done to provide 'factual and reliable baseline data/information for upcoming gender-based vio-lence programmes in the relevant areas'.

She said the study would help compare the ratio of violence in high violence reporting districts.

The study showed that many didn't consider violence against women as a violation and rather it was 'acceptable' in families.

'Girls are brought in background where men are symbol of power and control who have the right to beat up a woman.

Men enjoy socially dominant position and women who try to give their input on issues are labeled as corrupt.

When asked whether the society accepts woman as a human being, nine in 15 men answered in negative.

The study showed that women were deprived of their basic human rights and that women were considered responsible to safeguard honour of the family. Women also told researchers that they hated men, who abused women to vent their frustration.

'Pakistan is out of denial regarding the existing of genderbased violence and violence against women in spite of the facts that men friendly if not anti-women traditions and patriarchal consensus discourage reporting of such cases and a strong and effective legislation to combat the issue is yet to be witnessed,' the study said. -Bureau Report