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Young women are safer in their parents’ homes, Karachi study finds

“Marriages are making girls vulnerable,” remarked Khalida Ghaus of the Social Policy and Development Centre.

KARACHI: Young women are safer in their parents’ homes, a study on the socioeconomic violence against women in Karachi has found.

“Marriages are making girls vulnerable,” remarked Khalida Ghaus of the Social Policy and Development Centre as she presented the findings on Tuesday at the Marriot Hotel.

The case study of Karachi interviewed 50 victims of violence. It found that these women spent more on legal services than on medical treatment. According to the report, a female victim spent Rs50,300 in judicial or legal services, Rs36,400 on police services. The least they were spending was on medical expenses – about Rs 10,100.

Ghaus said that 40% of the respondents belonged to the 19 to 29 age bracket, while a majority of them were unlettered and economically inactive. Around 64% were poor.

Physical abuse was the most common with 37.4% of victims suffering the aggressive nature of a perpetrator. The majority of injuries were sprains and bruises (33%).

Around 42% of such victims of violence were married, and a majority of the perpetrators (55%) were husbands, and 22% in-laws. Parents who committed violence on their daughters were said to be four per cent.

At the SPDC seminar another study was also launched: ‘Gender Dimension of Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement: A Case Study of Lyari Expressway.’ It was this that became subject of a heated discussion.

A researcher who had conducted a study on the plight of women displaced by the project said their education and employment has discontinued. Former project director Shafiqur Rehman Paracha attacked him for it. “Did you visit the 42 colonies where these people lived before they were resettled?” he spat out. “Around 377 teachers from the community are employed in 27 schools in Taiser Town. How can you say that the displaced women have no employment?”

A series of questions and answers started with the researcher saying that the affected people were not consulted before being uprooted. Paracha argued that they previously had an even worse living standard — 20 people were crammed in a 16-square-yard house. It was then that Ghaus intervened and said that they were not saying that the project had been a success or a failure; their research was based on interviews.

The study included interviews with 508 households living in Hawkesbay, Taiser Town and Baldia, the three resettlement locations. SPDC economist Nadeem Ahmad presented the findings. “Employment figures have gone down drastically,” he said. “The percentage of men employed at the time of displacement was 73.9 and it is currently 66.5, while the figure of female employees has gone down from 11.4 to 6.7.”

He had other shocking figures to share. According to the study, currently 42.7% households have zero income. The women have no source of income, their education and employment has been cut off. Around 63.3% of females interviewed felt that living standards had declined.

The Express Tribune