Pakistan and rights of women: unbearable

September 28, 2013

This short write-up on violence against women and against women human rights defenders in particular in Pakistan is interesting in itself but equally interesting is to note that the Oman Tribune is carrying it. This kind of south-south spreading of human rights news is encouraging: Alarming figures of increasing cases of violence against women were presented in a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan [HRCP] report issued recently.  Violation against women is widespread in Pakistan and exists in various forms be it domestic violence and abuse, sexual abuse and harassment, acid attacks, honour killings, restricted freedom of movement to downright barring of women from casting their votes in the elections. The Commission in its statement said: “HRCP has watched with grave concern the rising incidence of violence against women in Pakistan in recent days. Unfortunately, such incidents have always been commonplace in the country but now such reports are coming not from far-off places but from the main cities. ”Several cases of rape have been reported from Punjab in the past few days, including that of a five-year old child. To give an idea of the scale of the problem, in the city of Lahore alone, police have registered 113 cases of rape from January 1 to August 31 this year. In the same period, police in the provincial capital of Punjab registered 32 gang-rape cases. Most of the victims were teenage girls. The problem in hardly confined to Punjab. The plight of Kainat Soomro, a young rape victim in Sindh, and the excesses she has had to endure in her efforts to bring her tormentors to justice are there for all to see. Her ordeal represents how rape victims who have the courage to pursue their rapists are left to fend for themselves. Moreover, according to media monitoring by HRCP, until the end of July this year, at least 44 women became targets of acid attacks in the country, seven of whom had died due to their injuries. As many as 44 women had been set on fire; 11 had died in such attacks. Furthermore, as many as 451 women had been killed in Pakistan in the name of honour in 2013 by the end of July, compared to 918 killed in 2012. Earlier this week, three women were shot dead by family members in the name of ‘honour’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  Furthermore, HRCP is acutely concerned that risks have grown for all those who try and help the victims is any manner or try to expose the excesses.Human rights defenders who try to highlight excesses against women have become particularly vulnerable, the statement issued by the HRCP said. In fact, an HRCP staff member had to be relocated just a fortnight earlier because his reporting of a woman’s beating by her relatives upset the family to the extent that they threatened to kill him and started following him. Such targeting of a section of population solely on account of gender is utterly unacceptable and it is a matter of shame that the society at large has not felt compelled to raise a strong enough voice to putting an end to this travesty, the commission said.”

via Oman Tribune – the edge of knowledge.

and to illustrate this sad state of affairs the regional NGO, the Asian Human Rights Commission, reports on 25 September:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a young female activist, Ms. Sahib Khatoon was allegedly brutally murdered by her husband while returning home from her job in a NGO. She was forced to marry her cousin and neither of them were happy with the arrangement. The marriage ended in her murder. She was killed because she was working to raise awareness of human rights so when her own right to marry the person of her choice was violated she raised her voice which was unbearable for her husband. He first confessed that he murdered his wife, but after one night at the station he changed his confession and the police, who allegedly received a bribe, are now changing the case into a honour killing. 

One Response to “Pakistan and rights of women: unbearable”

  1. […] The 2012 and 2013 “honour killings” were linked to a video, which went viral after it appeared online in 2012. It showed five young women singing and clapping, while two young men performed a traditional dance during a local wedding in Palas, a remote area in Kohistan. The mixing of genders is considered a serious violation of tribal norms in Kohistan and the young people were killed as a result of the “dishonour” they had brought on their families and community…..Prior to his death, Afzal Kohistani had received numerous death threats for seeking to bring the perpetrators of the Kohistan killings to justice. The human rights defender and his family were forced to leave their home in 2012 and had been in hiding for the past seven years. A few days prior to being killed, the human rights defender had written to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in Hazara seeking police protection but his request never received a response. The Supreme Court’s orders for the provincial government to provide the human rights defender with protection were also not heeded. (for more detail see the link below).[ One of my first posts in 2013 concerned […]

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