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Violence against women on rise

KARACHI: Women in Pakistan are severely encumbered and discriminated against. Violence against women within the home and community, as well as in the custody of the law-enforcement officials, is on the rise.

According to reports collected from different Human Rights groups and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), one woman is raped every two hours and hundreds fall victim to “honour” killing, domestic violence, burning, acid throwing, and domestic violence.

According to the data collected from an NGO, Madadgar, a project of LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid), over 90 percent of married women were being kicked, slapped, beaten, or sexually abused over matters as trifle as the husband not being satisfied with the quality of the food or the cleanliness in the home not being up to his expectations.

Acid throwing is on the increase. Acid burns do not actually kill but result in disfiguring and suffering, destruction of self-esteem, and confinement of women to the four walls of their homes.

According to Madadgar, in 2003, 22 women suffered acid burns which were reported in newspapers whereas hundred of cases were not reported at all.

Women’s NGOs like Aurat Foundation, WAR (War Against Rape) have demanded of the government to restrict the clandestine sale of acid or to punish those who use it to injure women.

Domestic violence is also rampant and as many as 191 women were reportedly beaten and 28 were burnt by their fathers, husbands, or brothers as they suspected that these women had, in some way dented their menfolk’s honour. Often the grounds for such assumptions can be very flimsy and amount to nothing more than a suspicion about women’s fidelity.

Women continue to die painful deaths in the dubious ‘stove bursts’ accident in the kitchen. Fifteen women were burnt alive in this manner in 2003.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates that less than 20 percent of the deaths lead to arrest and most suspects are released within a day.

According to a report, as many as 28 women were found illegally detained in police custody where, more often than not, their complaints are not registered and they remain in the lock-up for years at a stretch without hearing or trial.

As many as 121 women were harassed and 1081 injured, 325 women were sexually assaulted, 526 were tortured, 62 stripped, and 55 were publicly taunted.

The report says that three women are murdered daily and almost 100 women are murdered within a month, a figure which often touches 1430 within a year.

Different NGOs and Human Rights organizations have also sent some recommendations to the government demanding unconditional, public condemnation of all acts of violence against women.

It should develop policies and disseminate awareness to promote women’s safety within the home, the community, and during detention.

The government should prohibit all acts of violence against women and establish legal protection. It should also review existing laws including the Hudood, Qisas, and Diyat Ordinances.

All allegations of violence against women should be expeditiously investigated and the culprits prosecuted and punished promptly.

Source: The News

Date:4/3/2004

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