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Alarming rise in crimes against women: HRCP

ISLAMABAD, February 04,2005: Despite official commitments to check “honour killing, domestic violence and other crimes against women” the ground realities for most women are different. On the contrary, an increased number of women faced violence or threat of violence, and the authorities failed to provide them protection. This is a stark reality presented in the Human Rights Commission’s Report “State of Human Rights 2004”.

The report stated the gender empowerment measure (GEM) had a value 0.416, placing Pakistan at 64th place among 177 countries. However, with 21.6 percent women representation in lower house and 18 percent in the upper house, women issues were raised more often in assemblies than before.

According to the statistics collected till October 2004 by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 464 women fell victim to honour killings, including karo-kari, out of which 384 killings had been carried out on the allegation of having illicit relations; among those 151 murders were carried out by husbands, 19 by sons, 104 by brothers, 27 by fathers, 30 by in-laws and 50 by other relations.

Besides, 562 murder cases of women were reported till October 31, many of which were suspected to be linked to ‘honour’ killing.According to the report, incidents of horrific domestic abuse continued to be reported through the year and the statistics showed almost 91 women fell victim to burning, out of which 43 were burnt after accidents involving stoves and 48 were set on fire.

The report mentioned the trend of acid attacks on women has been growing alarmingly over the past three years, and continued to rise sharply. Over 42 cases of acid attacks were reported from across the country, mostly over domestic and matrimonial disputes.

The official figures on ‘rape’ were also rising. The report stated 320 women were criminally assaulted and FIRs were registered only in 177 cases of rape and 39 accused were arrested. Moreover, 350 women were gang-raped and only 207 FIRs were registered, and 45 accused were arrested.

The report noted more than 50 percent women’s reserved seats on local government councils in NWFP remained vacant.

The recommendations of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on the laws discriminatory to women, particularly, the repeal of Hudood Ordinance remained unimplemented despite demands by the lawyers, human rights activities and political parties, the report added.

The female economic activity rate remained at 36.3 percent, well below India and Bangladesh and is amongst the lowest in the world. United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) figures showed 73 percent of women were involved in agriculture, nine percent in industry and 18 percent in services.

The percentage for female legislators, senior officials and managers was nine percent while professional female and technical workers was 26 percent.

The report found out of 175,189 employees in Federal Government, only 9,387 were women. An interesting feature of the report is girls’ continuity to bag the highest number of top positions in public examinations but only 2.7 percent women are in district management group.

In April, the NWFP government’s Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP) proposed allocating 50 percent job quota for women in all sanctioned posts of BPS-17 of the executive /secretariat group, but the recommendation was not implemented as the year closed, report added.

The report mentioned the statistics of “Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan” saying that up to 78 percent of working women faced harassment. It says the incidence was 58 percent for nurses, 91 percent for domestic workers, 93 percent for offices and 95 percent for brick kiln and field workers.

The report added evidence in almost all cases that complaints of harassment in both the public and private sectors were ignored .

Source: Business Recorder

Date:2/4/2005

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