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278 cases of violence against women in 3 months: report

PESHAWAR, July 11: Depic-ting the situation of violence against women in the NWFP, a report said 278 such cases were reported in the province in three months.

Sharing data collected and compiled by the Aurat Foundation under the policy and data monitoring on ‘violence against women’ project, programme officer Shirin Javed said that of the 278 cases reported during April-June, 131 cases had been collected from newspapers, 88 from police headquarters, 41 from hospitals and 18 from the private women crisis centre of Mera Ghar.

Mostly, reasons behind the incidents of murder are suspicion on character, family dispute, property dispute and refusal of marriage proposal. In many cases, reasons are not known.

“The highest number of cases of violence against women was reported in the Peshawar district followed by the Mardan district. Interestingly, no case of any kind of violence against women was reported from the Kohistan district,” Shirin said.

Provincial Health Minister Zahir Shah, who was the chief guest, assured of his help in providing facilities and in timely registration of FIR whenever a woman victim of violence was brought to hospital.

He said facilities in public sector hospitals were not of good standard and he was not satisfied with their performance. He said a programme had been prepared to bring about improvement in the health sector.

The Aurat Foundation with the cooperation of the Ethnomedia organisation showed a documentary on the practice of Swara, also called Vani, Sungchatti and Irchai, in the four provinces. Under this custom, females, often girls as young as newborn, were given in exchange, just like a commodity, to the rival group to settle feuds, Samar Minallah, who had directed and produced the documentary film, told the gathering.

She said she had been working on the issue since 2003 and despite the fact that the practice had been made a punishable offence under Section 310A of the PPC, the perpetrators went unpunished due to lack of implementation of the law and involvement of influential tribal elders.

She said the practice of exchanging females to settle family disputes had been going on under one name or another in the four provinces. Most of the time, she said, jirgas headed by parliamentarians and tribal elders were found involved in such arrangements.

“There was a brief of ray of hope when the judiciary took notice of jirgas’ decisions in such cases. Judicial activism gave voice to the victims,” said Samar in the documentary entitled “the plagued mindsets”.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/12/2008

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