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Anti-wanni, domestic violence bill soon: Sherry

ISLAMABAD (June 07 2008): Anti-Wanni Bill will soon be tabled in the National and Provincial Assemblies, whereas Domestic Violence Bill has been sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting and will be presented before the National Assembly within two weeks.

This was announced by Sherry Rehman, Minister for Women Development while addressing a seminar on the “Situation of Violence against Women in Pakistan”, held here on Friday. Bushra Gohar, MNA of Awami National Party, Dr Faqir Hussain, Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice Commission, Maria Rasheed, Director Rozan (NGO) and representatives of other civil societies were present on the occasion.

The seminar was organised by Aurat Foundation in connection with the launch of first quarterly report of 2008 on statistics containing incidents of violence against women during January to March 2008 under its national programme ‘Policy and Data Monitor on Violence against Women.’ Sherry said that in our society it is very difficult for a woman at all levels to ask and fight for her rights.

“We are trying our level best to frame law on cruel practices against the women and to provide them a secure environment. However it will take time”, she added. Sharing the details of the report, Maria Rasheed informed the participants that there were a total number of 1,321 violence incidents against women in the four provinces of Pakistan and in the federal capital, Islamabad (546 in Punjab; 298 in Sindh; 282 in NWFP; 151 in Balochistan and 44 in Islamabad), between January 01 and March 31, 2008.

In addition to these incidents, 30 men in Sindh and one man in Balochistan also lost their lives in the incidents of ‘honour’ killing during the same period.

Out of a total of 1,322 cases of violence against women in Pakistan, there were 366 cases of murder (130 in Punjab; 110 in Sindh; 95 in NWFP; 25 in Balochistan; 6 in Islamabad); 90 cases of ‘honour’ killings (11 in Punjab; 35 in Sindh; 8 in NWFP; 36 in Balochistan); 25 cases of attempt to murder (13 in Punjab; 7 in Sindh; 5 in Balochistan); 246 cases of abduction (177 in Punjab; 38 in Sindh; 16 in NWFP; 4 in Balochistan; 11 in Islamabad); 179 cases of hurt and body injury (56 in Punjab; 32 in Sindh; 44 in NWFP; 42 in Balochistan; 5 in Islamabad); 119 cases of domestic violence (34 in Punjab; 30 in Sindh; 46 in NWFP; 7 in Balochistan; 2 in Islamabad); 66 cases of suicide (27 in Punjab; 24 in Sindh; 8 in NWFP; 4 in Balochistan; 3 in Islamabad); 11 cases of attempted suicide (10 in Balochistan; 1 in Islamabad); 61 cases of rape (34 in Punjab; 14 in Sindh; 9 in NWFP; 3 in Balochistan; 1 in Islamabad); 18 cases of gang-rape (8 in Punjab; 10 in Sindh); 34 cases of sexual assault (13 in Punjab; 6 in Sindh; 10 in NWFP; 3 in Balochistan; 2 in Islamabad); 34 cases of custodial violence (10 in Punjab; 14 in Sindh); 16 cases of burning (4 in Punjab; 6 in Sindh;1 in NWFP; 4 in Balochistan; 1 in Islamabad); 3 cases of acid throwing (2 in Punjab; 1 in Sindh); 6 cases of trafficking (4 in Punjab; 2 in NWFP) and 57 cases of violence were of miscellaneous nature in the four provinces and Islamabad. Nearly 99 percent perpetrators of these incidents of violence against women were male, either relative or non-relative, according to the reading and scrutiny undertaken by the staff of Aurat Foundation.

In most of the incidents of women murder, the motives cited or reported were accusations of ‘illicit’ sexual relations, domestic quarrels, blood feuds, land disputes, lure of property and personal enmity. Sometimes, the crimes of this nature were committed over minor and trifling issues in a sudden outburst of anger, as claimed by the accused. Gender bias or an intolerant and inhuman behaviour towards women, however, turned out to be the real motive in most of these cases.

Though domestic violence, which often has lethal consequences for women, is widespread in Pakistan, it has not been as widely covered in this report as it should have been, for reasons of inaccessibility to the data from most of the government-run shelter homes/crisis centres and most importantly because the violence usually committed within the home is neither recognised as an offence in the law nor women mostly get an opportunity to reach out to public or private institutions to report these cases, particularly in the rural areas.

However, according to a limited number of cases reported in the media and registered with the police, show that the motive behind such offences is grounded in the conviction of many men that women are their property and obliged to fulfil men’s needs and wants without questioning.

Mostly, the violence occurred due to a family dispute and resulted in physical and mental abuse, rape, burning, acid throwing, burning and killing. It has also been reported that women were kicked, slapped, beaten or sexually abused when husbands were dissatisfied by their cooking or cleaning, or when the women had failed to bear a child or had given birth to a ‘wrong’ gender child.

The figures about increasing incidents of abductions, ‘honour’ killings, suicides and rape are alarming. There were 246 women who were abducted; 90 women were killed in the name of so-called honour (karo-kari), particularly in Sindh and Balochistan.

Similarly, the most horrifying fact was that 66 women took their own lives and 11 attempted to commit suicide in a span of three months and 61 women were subjected to rape, the most ignominious of all crimes, and 18 were gang-raped, shows the extent of suppression and violence creeping into the lives of ordinary women, where either they do not find any recourse to a decent living or are humiliated and disgraced through violent acts by men.

One astonishing finding of the reports from all the provinces and Islamabad is that the incidents of violence were of equal number in urban areas, with the exception of incidents of ‘honour’ killing and the province of Balochistan, which is predominantly rural or tribal.

There are a number of other issues relating to availability of data with police, medico-legal centres and shelter homes/crisis centres for women, the registration of FIRs etc, which are discussed in the data reports of Islamabad and the four provinces as main findings of the quarterly reports released by Aurat Foundation’s offices in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta (these are available with ANF offices). “By presenting this collected data of reported cases, we must also bear in mind that we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg, especially regarding domestic violence and VAW in the rural areas and smaller towns”, added Maria.
Source: Business Recorder