Social Welfare Officer, Kohat, Shazia Khattak said that 85 per cent of the cases were not reported by women because of the predominant male-dominated society and illiteracy, adding that women were expected to follow a strict code of conduct.
She said that in most of the cases, her department had to stop offering legal help to the victim out of fear for her life, adding that they had to send the women back to their homes as they were unable to protect them for more than 24 hours. She recalled that two women had been killed by their in-laws in 2005, who were sent by the social welfare department to Darul Aman in Peshawar. Their families had taken them home and killed the next day.
Criticising the police performance, she said that despite being responsible for protecting the life and proerty of people, police did not provide round the clock protection to women and deemed it the responsibility of local elders who tried to resolve by domestic conflicts in accordance with the teachings of Islam and by exerting their influence.
Earlier, briefing journalists about the progress of the women crisis centre at a function held under the GTZ, she said that 87 cases out of 201 cases were related to domestic violence followed by physical torture and abuse, dowry, financial problems and harassment.
She said they received 20 cases of property confiscation, 8 illegal confinement, 6 murders, 11 dissolution of marriages, 7 abductions, 11 missing women, 6 cases of forced prostitution and four cases of violence by personnel of law-enforcement agencies. Six cases of forced marriage were reported during the past year in addition to 10 reported elopement, 4 adultery and 3 cases of drug addictions.
In most of the cases, she said, her department did not disclose the details or whereabouts of the victims for their safety and to avoid any psychological problems during the rehabilitation period.
Referring to the case of a boy molested by his religious teacher last year at an institution run under the supervision of the social welfare office, she said that the boy was now studying at a highly reputed educational institution and the department was looking after him. “We expelled the teacher and decided not to press charges because it would have ruined the child’s future.”
“Currently, there are 21 pending cases while 127 have been resolved and eight referred to Darul Aman. Of the 61 cases being pursued in courts, 17 were decided and 44 were still under trial.”Musarat Shafi, the crisis centre’s legal advisor, said that 16 of the cases had been decided in favour of the victims.