40% of women in Pakistan have faced either physical or emotional violence
39% of women aged 15 to 49 years (never married) reported being subjected to Intimate Partner Violence
More than 1,000 cases of rape and sexual assault were reported in 2020: NCHR
According to a bone-chilling report, 40% of women in Pakistan have faced either physical or emotional violence. These shocking figures came out in a stakeholders’ consultation held by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR).
The discussion was focused on gender-based violence in Pakistan. Furthermore, it was also revealed that, divorced, widowed, and separated women suffered more violence than married women.
The aim of the discussion was to go through these crucial reports while discussing possible collaborations with key stakeholders for advocacy, policy and legal interventions.
NCHR: Tackling Violence Against Women in Pakistan
According to the last Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Pakistan, 39% of women aged 15 to 49 years — who had never been married — reported being subjected to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
The statistics prove that domestic violence is not confined to matrimonial relationships. Participants voiced their concerns regarding the increased number of domestic violence cases and stressed organised efforts to address the issue at all levels.
Participants were also briefed regarding the legal framework such as the three laws legislated to prevent cases of GBV including the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016; Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Sindh, 2013; and Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Balochistan, 2014. Whereas, the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2020 remains pending.
NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha shared that the rules for provincial laws are still pending. “In Sindh, it took six years for the first conviction under the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Sindh, 2013.” “Besides that, lack of domestic violence shelters and a low number of female police officers also play a role in discoursing women from taking a decision,” Javeri added.
Shedding Light Over Gender-Violence
Pakistan is a country with a rich cultural heritage and a diverse population, but despite this, it is grappling with a growing problem of gender-based crimes against women. These crimes range from domestic violence, acid attacks, rape, and honour killings, to name a few. Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of reported cases of violence against women, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
One of the most alarming aspects of gender-based crimes in Pakistan is the prevalence of domestic violence. According to the Aurat Foundation, a non-profit organization working for women’s rights, more than 70% of women in Pakistan experience some form of violence in their lifetime, with a significant portion of these cases taking place within the home. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and it often goes unreported due to the shame and stigma attached to it.
Another prevalent form of gender-based violence in Pakistan is acid attacks. These attacks, which involve throwing acid on a woman’s face and body, are a brutal form of violence that can leave the victim permanently disfigured and scarred. Acid attacks are often motivated by personal grudges, jealousy, and rejection of marriage proposals, among other reasons. Despite being banned, acid attacks continue to take place in Pakistan, and the perpetrators are often not brought to justice.
Rape and sexual assault are also increasingly common forms of violence against women in Pakistan. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more than 1,000 cases of rape and sexual assault were reported in 2020 alone. However, this number is likely to be much higher, as many cases go unreported due to the stigma attached to being a rape survivor. The criminal justice system in Pakistan is also known to be flawed and biased against women, which makes it difficult for survivors to receive justice and protection.
Honour killings are another form of violence that is prevalent in Pakistan. These killings, which involve the murder of women who are believed to have brought shame to their families, often go unpunished. In many cases, the perpetrators are members of the victim’s own family, and the killings are carried out in the name of preserving the family’s honour. Honour killings are a manifestation of the patriarchal attitudes that are deeply ingrained in Pakistani society and are a significant barrier to progress in the fight against gender-based violence.
NCHR’s Role in Pakistan
NCHR in Pakistan is an independent and autonomous body established in 2012 with the mandate to promote and protect human rights in the country. The Commission has played an important role in addressing violence against women in Pakistan by promoting awareness, advocating for legislative reforms, and providing support to victims of violence.
Some of the key ways in which the NCHR has helped curb violence against women in Pakistan include:
- Monitoring and reporting: The NCHR has been monitoring cases of violence against women and documenting the extent of the problem in the country. The Commission also prepares annual reports on human rights, which include data on gender-based violence and its impact on women. This information is used to inform policy and legislative reforms aimed at reducing violence against women.
- Advocacy and awareness-raising: The NCHR has been actively engaged in raising awareness about violence against women and the need for greater protection for women’s rights. The Commission has also been advocating for legislative reforms and improvements in the criminal justice system to ensure that perpetrators of violence against women are held accountable.
- Providing support to survivors: The NCHR provides legal and medical support to survivors of violence, including women who have been victims of domestic violence, rape, or other forms of gender-based violence. The Commission also works to provide counselling and support services to help survivors recover from their experiences and to rebuild their lives.
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