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8,000 acts of violence against women reported in 2010

Karachi: Over 8,000 incidents of violence against women were reported last year, says a report released by a non-governmental organization working for women rights.

The Aurat Foundation released its annual report on violence against women in Pakistan 2010 on Tuesday at a local hotel.

The report reveals that around 2,236 women were abducted, 1,436 were murdered, 928 were raped or gang-raped, 633 committed suicide, 557 were killed in incidents of honor killing, 32 women became victims to acid throwing, 38 were burnt and 486 were subjected to domestic violence. Also, 1,580 miscellaneous cases of violence against women were reported in the country.

The report stated that the highest number of cases took place in Punjab with 5,492 incidents, followed by 1,652 cases in Sindh, 650 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 79 in Balochistan and 127 in Islamabad.

Sindh stood ahead of other provinces with regards to the number of honor killing incidents as 266 such cases were reported in the province. Meanwhile, around 309 cases of murder, 246 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 136 cases of domestic violence, 140 cases of suicide, 157 cases of rape or gang rape, 34 cases of sexual assault, three cases of acid throwing and 361 cases of miscellaneous were reported in Sindh.

Although 2010’s figures show a six per cent decrease compared to 2009, they still display a 13 per cent increase compared to 2008. The report suggests that the decrease in cases of violence against women in 2010 compared to the previous year was due to last July’s devastating floods which not only displaced millions of people but also led to a reduction in crime.

It is important that one remains cognizant of the fact that these estimates regardless of what year do not account for the thousands of cases that are not reported.

Furthermore, from the cases that were reported for 2010 a First Information Report (FIR) was filed for 3,650 of them while 1,118 were not registered and there were 430 incidents with no information available.

During the event the presenter of the report, Shireen Aijaz of the Aurat Foundation, said that strict laws should be passed to protect women while the police and judiciary should be more sensitive towards women’s issues. She also called for an increase in political representation. Religious as well as political leaders should play an active role in protecting and empowering women, she asserted.

Resident Director Aurat Foundation Mahaz Rahman cited the horrific episode of a woman being stoned to death in Mardan and another being paraded in Haripur and lamented that Pakistani society was regressing back to the ‘stone age’. “What is happening to our society? We should treat women like human beings,” she said.

Provincial Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto regretfully admitted that the government’s plan to bring about a change in society’s mindset regarding women had yet to be achieved.

She mentioned the steps that the state had taken towards women empowerment and development, and added that five complaints centers were working with women in Sindh and issues they face on a daily basis.

Bhutto highlighted the need for dedicated police stations where women could feel safe reporting their issue and rest assured that action would be taken.

She relayed the complaints of women in Mirpurkhas who felt that they had nowhere to go to report cases of violence or wrong doings against them, adding that it was unfortunate that even female police officials felt that they were powerless.

Pakistan People’s Party’ (PPP) Secretary of Information for Sindh Sharmila farooqi shed light on the important issue that thousands of cases were not even being reported due to taboos associated with various forms of domestic violence, especially rape.

Women need to break the silence when it comes to violence and discrimination, she asserted. “Because of this silence, the cases of violence against women are increasing.” Farooqi also emphasised on the need for equal representation for women in the assemblies.

Member of the Sindh Assembly, Humaira Alwani, demanded that inhuman ‘honour’ killings be addressed and she asked that a bill protecting women and children from domestic violence she had tabled in the provincial assembly be passed.

“A recent survey showed that 80 percent of Pakistani women were victims of domestic violence. Since 2008, my bill has been pending in the Sindh assembly which should now be passed,” she said.

With respect to ‘Karo Kari’, she said that it was imperative that a bill be drafted addressing the issue, which declared the heinous act as ‘murder’. She added that the state should take responsibility and lodge an FIR in these cases, as an honour killing would most likely remain unreported since the main perpetrator usually belonged to the victim’s own family.

Member of the National Assembly, Khusbakht Shujaat, said that although laws protecting women exist the main problem lay in their implementation. “We should bring about change ourselves.”

Source: The News