PAKISTAN: Culture of Impunity Blamed for Violence Against Women

Monday, October 22, 2012
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

The report adds that the FIRs of around 59 per cent of the cases in the province were not registered.

An overwhelming impunity granted to perpetrators of violence against women has led to a steady rise in the number of cases across Pakistan, the report says.

Prepared by Aurat Foundation, the non-governmental organisation working for women's rights, the report finds 3,153 incidents of violence against women reported in Punjab only. While this figure makes nearly 69 per cent of the total number of cases reported in the country, the report cites better awareness level along with easy access to the media and police for the high number of reported cases in the province.

Aurat Foundation has been collecting data and releasing annual reports on violence against women over the past four years, showing alarming trends prevailing in the country.

Since these reports are based on the incidents published in national dailies, it can be assumed that the actual number of violence cases is much higher.

While studying the cases district-wise, the organisation finds Lahore as the district where most cases of violence against women (272) were reported, followed by Okara (262) and Sargodha (223).

The report mentions a total of 15 districts with maximum number of cases. Of these, 12 are in Punjab, one in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and two in Sindh, it says.

In Sindh, 90 per cent cases of violence against women are reported in Khairpur Mirs, followed by 80pc in Ghotki, and 60pc cases in Sukkur, Naushahro Feroz and Larkana.

Forms of violence

The most common form of violence against women was found to be murder, with 153 killings reported in the media, the organisation says. It was followed by abduction/ kidnapping (146), domestic violence (140), honour killings (131), custodial violence (194), vani (102), suicide (59), rape/ gang rape (54), attempt to commit suicide (36), threat to violence (35), sexual assault (33), attempted murder (30), and burning (four).

Marital status, age group

The report says that 43pc victims (437) were married and 20pc (211) unmarried, while information regarding the marital status of the remaining 37pc (379) victims is not available.

The organisation in its study says that 18pc victims (186) were less than 18 years, 16pc victims (160) were between 19 and 36 years, four per cent victims were above 36 years, while information regarding the age group of 62pc victims (642) was not available.

The report says that the only 28 per cent of the cases were registered at police stations. For 59pc incidents, no FIR was registered. The report carries no information about the registration of the rest of the 13 per cent incidents.

It says that gender discrimination is not a Pakistan-specific issue, as gender issues are prevalent across the world. However, in a country such as Pakistan that faces infrastructural problems and lacks an effective justice system, the gender issues take a much more violent shape, the report says.

It points out that women suffer by an unfair division of power and resources. Be it education, health, access to justice system, or economic empowerment, women face a discriminatory attitude and have constantly been undermined, it says, adding that these factors, along with cultural practices lead to frequent cases of violence against women.

Most incidents go unreported and thus unpunished, it says.