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930 women subjected to sexual abuse in 2003 By Shamim Bano

KARACHI: Almost everyday the press carries reports of violence against women and one can easily judge gravity of the situation from the fact that during a period of 12 months from January to December 2003 as many as 930 women had been reportedly raped throughout the country – a number great enough to stir the conscience of the society.

According to the data collected by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Madadgar, a project of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), innumerable women had been put to death after being sexually abused and raped in different parts of the country. The statistics from January 1 to December 31 2003 is particularly shocking, as it reveals that 4,862 women had fallen prey to different acts of violence, including rape, sexually abuse, and strip beating.

Rashid Ansari, a mediamperson and data administrator at Madadgar, told this scribe that crimes against women are on the rise and the situation has swollen to alarming proportions. “Most of the cases are not reported due to fear of society,” he added.

Last year 4,485 cases of violence against women were reported, while in 2001 there were 3,662 cases and 1,388 cases were reported in 2000. The data shows a steady increase every year.

The monthly break-up of data shows that 92 cases of rape were reported in January 2003, while 21 were sexually assaulted and 13 were murdered after being raped.

Similarly, 78 cases were reported in February, 82 in March, 88 in April, 105 in May, 131 in June, while in July there were only 90 cases. But the number again increased in August when 109 rape cases were reported. However, the following three months, September, October and November, witnessed a noticeable decline, as respectively 74, 68 and 13 cases of violence against women were reported.

The Madagar research shows that as many as 1,430 women were murdered after being sexually abused last year. The horrific figure has stirred the conscience of the society and the gravity of the situation demands that the government must take immediate steps to check the ever-increasing cases of violence against women.

The President LHRLA, Zia Ahmed Awan advocate, said that discriminatory attitude of the society and various categories of people were involved in cases of violence, which is one of the most agonising and unfortunate injustices done to women in Pakistan.

“It is painful and offensive when it affects that segment of the society, which cannot defend itself, especially the women,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan is signatory to many international Human Rights conventions, including the United Nations Convention on Rights of Women and Child.

Source: The News

Date: 3/30/2004

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