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Domestic violence against women, children increased during lockdown: report

ISLAMABAD: Incidents of domestic violence and abuse against women and children increased in the second half of 2020 mainly owing to the coronavirus lockdowns.

The third six monthly report launched by Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) here on Monday presented an alarming situation in the country about the failure of the government in preventing child abuse and violation of women’s rights.

The report, “Tracking numbers: state of violence against women and children in Pakistan” highlighted that compared to the first half of the year, Jan-June 2020, there was a considerable increase in the child and women rights violation cases from July and December 2020.

Violence against women and rape cases doubled in the last six months of 2020.

Punjab reports maximum cases of child abuse followed by Sindh, KP

Similarly, the number of child abuse cases increased three times in second half compared to the first half of the year. Punjab reported maximum cases of child abuse followed by Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Apart from many reasons, the psychological impact of lockdowns and the lack of reporting mechanism that are usually present in normal days led to the increase in the criminal behaviour,” said Shahid Jatoi, director programmes SSDO.

According to the report, there was a considerable difference between the official data and the one collected through media tracking.

Women and child rights violations reported in media were less compared to the official record that suggested that either the media had not given priority to these cases or failed to properly report such incidents.

As per media tracking, the province of Punjab again is leading in reported cases followed by Sindh and KP. The increased number of reported cases both in official record and in media tracking in Punjab also suggested that such cases were being properly recorded though.

On the other hand, the less number of cases reported in official record and media tracking of Balochistan also raised questions about proper recording of cases of women and child rights violations in the province.

It has been suggested that there was a need for serious efforts by the government at all levels to ensure the implementation of laws related to the protection of women and children.

It is essential as children make up around 39 per cent while women and girls account for 48 percent of the country’s 207.8 million population. Pakistan has scored 5.46 out of 10 on “Child Rights Index” and ranks 164th among 167 countries in the “Women, Peace and Security Index 2019/20”.

Pakistan has pledged its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but still women and children in the country continue to face violence, discrimination and persecution with authorities often failing to provide adequate protection or hold the perpetrators accountable.

The SSDO said the data had been gathered through the tracking of both the English and Urdu print media and the comparison was drawn from data collected from official sources by using the Right to Information Law.

The analysis in the report was generated by collecting data of cases registered and reported against nine research indicators – child abuse, child labour, child marriages, domestic violence, violence against women, and harassment at workplaces, rape, kidnapping and honour killing.

These indicators were selected because they were relatively easy to update periodically.

The collection of data from the government sources proved to be instrumental in data triangulation for the study.

According to the official data analysis, eight out of nine indicators — child abuse (1,920 cases), child labour (117 cases), child marriages (32 cases), domestic violence (1,422 cases, violence against women (9,401 cases), rape (4, 321), kidnapping (15,714 cases) and honour killing (2,556 cases) had high occurrence throughout the country.

In the official record, Punjab followed by Sindh reported a considerable surge in almost all these indicators. The maximum number of cases were recorded in kidnapping and violence against women.

Newspaper: Dawn