Sir: Whenever I have had the opportunity to visit a lawyer friend in Islamabad or Rawalpindi, I see many abused women — victims of domestic violence — who are there to hire the services of legal counselors about the inhuman deeds committed by their husbands against them. The other day, I met a highly qualified lady, an assistant professor in some college, who had come to sue her husband for a physical injury he had caused. Domestic violence is an epidemic in Pakistani society but, unfortunately, now it has increased alarmingly even in urban society and not only the rural areas.
Recent reports and reliable surveys conducted on urban Pakistani society suggest that nearly two in every four women experience domestic violence during their lives in the form of verbal abuse, assault and battering, restriction of personal liberty, economic control or marital rape. Several surveys conducted in women’s prisons also reveal a significant correlation between domestic violence and crimes committed by women. One of the learned speakers in a one-day workshop on ‘Prisoners’ vulnerability: lacking awareness’, held here in the Federal Judicial Academy, Islamabad, under the auspices of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, also showed that over 60 percent of women who committed crimes had suffered from domestic violence.
Keeping in view the growing domestic violence against women in urban Pakistani society, the government should launch a series of reform projects and policy experiments to enhance the capacity of legal institutions and empower the justice sector stakeholders to intervene in and reduce domestic violence across the country. While developing stronger legislation is important, it will be equally necessary to strengthen community-level awareness and collective responses to incidencts of domestic violence. Educational institutions may be taken on board to raise awareness about this chronic problem.
FM radio and television stations can be requested to show dramas and features that discourage the growing inhuman tendency of violence against women. In addition to this, the provincial governments should also launch pilot projects that explore effective multi-sectoral domestic violence prevention and response models. Above all, the National Commission on the Status of Women may be directed to play a proactive role to raise awareness and advocacy against this despicable social behaviour in society and promote humanistic values.