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Aurat Foundation launches report on violence against women

ISLAMABAD (July 16 2008): Aurat Foundation launched a report on the Situation of Violence against Women in Pakistan here on Tuesday. Dr Arfa Sayeda Zehra, Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women was the chief guest at the launching ceremony which was attended by representatives of political parties and civil society.

The report is a collection and compilation of statistics on the incidents of violence against women during April to June 2008 under its national programme ‘Policy and Data Monitor on Violence against Women’ for the elimination of violence.

The data has been collected from different sources, though one of the main sources was daily Urdu and English newspapers. In the provinces, regional press has also been carefully scrutinised. Since most of the cases were collected from media which have been lodged with the police, and also since the other data is also collected from state institution eg, police, hospitals and government-run shelter homes, the majority of these are ‘reported cases’ of violence against women. These cases mostly relate to ‘physical’ nature of violence against women.

The report has shown that a total number of 1,705 incidents of violence against women occurred in the four provinces of the country and Islamabad. There were 828 cases in Punjab; 301 in Sindh; 278 in NWFP; 233 in Balochistan and 65 in Islamabad, between April 1 to June 30, 2008, as Aurat Foundation’s teams have been able to collect data in this regard from the above mentioned sources.

Out of a total of 1705 eases of violence against women, there were 356 eases of murder (132 in Punjab, 70 in Sindh, 102 in NWFP, 46 in Balochistan, 6 in Islamabad), 135 cases of ‘honour’ killings (35 in Punjab, 55 in Sindh, 13 in NWFP, 31 in Balochistan and 1 in Islamabad, 17 cases of attempt to murder (3 in Sindh, 1 in NWFP, 13 in Balochistan), 356 cases of abduction (247 in Punjab, 48 in Sindh, 16 in NWFP, 19 in Balochistan and 26 in Islamabad).

205 eases of hurt and body injury (52 in Punjab, 21 in Sindh, 55 in NWFP, 75 in Balochistan and 2 in Islamabad). 64 cases of domestic violence (19 in Punjab, l5 in Sindh, 22 in NWFP, 4 in Balochistan and 4 in Islamabad). 126 cases of suicide (74 in Punjab, 33 in Sindh, 12 in NWFP, 6 in Balochistan and 1 in Islamabad). 24 cases of attempted suicide (12 in Punjab, 12 in Balochistan). 107 cases of rape (77 in Punjab, 7 in Sindh, 18 in NWFP, 4 in Balochistan and 1 in Islamabad). 66 cases of gang-rape (40 in Punjab, 16 in Sindh, 1 in NWFP, 7 in Balochistan, 2 in Islamabad). 42 cases of sexual assault (30 in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, and 1 in Islamabad). 24 cases of custodial violence (11 in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, 2 in Islamabad). 20 cases of burning (12 in Punjab, 3 in Sindh, 5 in Balochistan). 6 cases of acid throwing (4 in Punjab, I in Sindh and I in Islamabad). 4 cases of trafficking (2 in Sindh and 2 in NWFP). 56 cases of torture (50 in Punjab and 6 in Islamabad). 97 cases of violence were of miscellaneous nature in four provinces and Islamabad.

The percentage of murder cases of women among all these recorded/reported cases is the highest, ie 20.9 percent followed by ULC abduction (kidnapping) of women (209 percent), honour killing (79 percent), suicide (7 percent), rape (6 percent) gang-rape (37 percent), domestic violence (36 percent), torture (31 percent), sexual assault (23 percent), custodial violence (13 percent): burning and acid throwing (1.194 & 0.3) respectively and offences of miscellaneous nature (5.4 percent).

The number of cases in this quarter (1705) is far more than the cases in the previous quarter (1321 in January-March 2008). There have been 384 more incidents overall, but, there had been a sharp increase, particularly in Punjab. This does not necessarily show an increase in the number of cases, because it might have been the result of a more intensive media scrutiny by the Aurat Foundation team in Lahore.

Still, there is lack of coverage in many districts of southern Punjab. The most alarming increase has occurred in the rate of suicides, in the first quarter of the year 66 women committed suicide, whereas in the second quarter 26 women have taken their own lives.

Similarly, in the first quarter 90 women were murdered in the name of honour, whereas 135 women were killed in the second quarter on the pretext of this so called honour. More honour killings have taken place in Punjab this quarter (35) as compared to the previous quarter. The rape cases, unfortunately, have also sharply increased in the second quarter (107) as compared to the first quarter (60).

Most regrettably and shamefully, the number of incidents of gang-rape, which is the most ignominious of all crimes, has also risen to 66 in the second quarter as compared to 19 in the first quarter. This shows the extent of suppression and violence creeping into the lives of ordinary women, where they do not find any recourse to a decent living or are humiliated and disgraced through violent acts by men.

In most of the incidents of violence, the perpetrators were male, either relative or non-relative, according to the media and newspapers reports. In most of the incidents of murder of women, 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 issues in a sudden outburst of anger.

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 of the data from most of the government-run shelter homes, crisis centres. 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.

A number of reports have suggested that mostly, the violence occurred due to extreme gender biases against women resulting into family disputes. Women in such eases were subjected to physical and mental abuse, rape, burning, acid throwing 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 hear a child or had given birth to a wrong gender child. 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 in the rural areas and smaller towns.
Source: Business Recorder

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