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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Karachi: A total of 1,065 cases of heinous crimes against women have been reported in Karachi during the first 10 months of 2009, the Madadgar Team told the media at a press briefing on Tuesday.

During the time period between January and October this year, 174 cases of murder while 113 cases of rape were reported. Apart from that, 24 women were gang raped, 19 were raped and then murdered, 42 were trafficked, and 198 women have been reported to be kidnapped. In addition 163 cases of torture at home and 24 cases of torture by police officials against women were also reported in 18 newspapers from which the helpline team compiled its data.

According to the Madadgar Team, 6,207 cases of crimes and abuse against women have been reported this year in Pakistan. Out of which 997 cases alone were related to suicide attempts by women.

Comparatively, a small number of crimes against women was reported from Balochistan and NWFP, which the team explained was not because women are well protected there but it illuminates the strong hold of tribal jirga system which does not permit these cases to be reported or discussed anywhere else.

Speaking at the briefing, Advocate Zia Ahmed Awan, President Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) said that perpetrators who commit these crimes are usually set free while the women are made to hide their faces and defend themselves.

He said that almost every case that comes to them pertains to domestic violence and murder. “These cases have increased in numbers in the past 10 years and unless the government takes proper action backed by legal protection of women and their rights nothing can be achieved in this regard”, he said.

The victims present at the briefing also came forward with their stories. With wavering voice and eyes filled with tears all of them spoke about their sad ordeal, inflicted either by an abusive husband, or a violent brother in law and in some cases a minor misunderstanding resulted in death of a woman by the hands of her in laws.

Sharafat Ali a resident of Quaidabad showed the picture of his 21-year-old wife Safia who was brutally murdered by his brother in front of his 9 month old kid. Apparently, in the holy month of Ramadan on 15 September, his brother entered his home with the help of a woman accomplice and tried to electrocute his wife but when she didn’t die they stabbed her to death in front of his two kids who are barely at the age to speak properly. With a voice trembling at once with anger and pain he asked what did his wife do to suffer this torture.

“My sons (aged 2 years, and 9 months) were staring at their mother’s blood stained body when I entered.” Sobbing hysterically he explained that how after finding out that his wife had been murdered he went to Quaidabad Police Station to file an FIR only to be asked by a policeman to forget about the whole issue if he can’t pay him anything.

The accused had been arrested but Sharafat said that “the charges against the accused be framed under the anti-terrorism law and the absconding female should also be arrested quickly.”

“All these cases point out the severe shortage of justice and investigation of crimes in our country” said Zia Awan. He added that if a proper probe and investigation in the matter is carried out “than these cases will not be on a rise as they have been for the past 10 years.”

In this regard, Zia Awan proposed a few recommendations and said that law enforcement agencies and judiciary needs to be strengthened as they are the backbone of a nation. “The Supreme Court of Pakistan under article 184(3) of the constitution should take up the issue of women protection and monitor government’s action in this regard.”

He said that a lady ombudsman should be appointed to check the cases of violence against women and address their problems with independent judicial powers. Gender needs should also be addressed at grass root levels and most importantly to implement the laws of UN/International/ Regional Protocols &Conventions that are ratified by Pakistan.
Source: The News
Date:11/25/2009

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