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Violence against women

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    Violence against women

    from Dawn

    Violence against women

    THE disclosure by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Thursday that there has been a significant increase in violence against women in and around the
    Lahore region in the first eleven months of 1999, is cause for serious concern. In its report entitled the "Dimensions of Violence," the HRCP reveals that 266 women
    were murdered during the period in so-called honour killings, while 163 died in "stove burst" incidents in which women are often burnt alive for a variety of reasons,
    including dowry-related disputes, and are shown to be victims of unexplained stove explosions. What is equally chilling is the fact that 15% of those killed were young
    girls, mostly newly married in the case of the stove deaths, and their murderers were close family members, mostly brothers or husbands. What is more disturbing is
    the fact that out of this number, no more than 35 persons have been arrested by the police for these fatalities and in a quarter of the cases, no FIR was registered after
    the murder of the women.

    Honour killings and stove-burst deaths are not restricted to Lahore, or for that matter, to Punjab, alone. Between October 1998 and September 1999, 595 people in
    Sindh were murdered in honour killings alone. The killing of women over domestic issues, a tradition that illustrates how primitive a large part of our society is,
    encompasses all of Pakistan. With a government that has publicly stated that it will work progressively to promote and protect the rights of women, this is no more an
    issue that can be swept under the carpet as has been done by successive governments. As things stand, it has become our abiding national shame and embarrassment.

    According to the HRCP, hundreds of men and women, mostly the latter, are killed each year in blind pursuit of a primitive notion of honour and other such horrific
    customs and practices. A sizable number of these killings go unreported and thus accurate figures are still not available for these. As other countries strive to better
    their record on human rights, Pakistan seems to be moving backwards by condoning cold-blooded murders in the name of honour and, at the same time, being overly
    sensitive to international criticism of the inhuman practice. The practice is in total violation of basic human rights and is not at all part of the teachings of Islam, as some
    of its perpetrators would have us believe. What is tragic is that despite the seriousness of the issue, the victims usually find no help from either the police or the
    so-called enlightened section of society which looks the other way or pleads helplessness as people are killed with amazing regularity in the name of tradition and their
    killers are allowed to go scot free. Last year's high-profile Samia Sarwar case, where the lady was killed on instructions of her parents in the name of honour for
    demanding a divorce from her husband, continues to be ignored by the government. Samia's parents and those involved in her murder have not been apprehended, let
    alone punished for their crime. The issue of so-called honour has only brought a bad name to Pakistan and Islam in the eyes of the world.

    For its part, the government is more alive to the criticism that comes from all over the world than with the number and frequency, or the sheer inhumanity, of such
    killings. Government officials continue to insist that this practice is not as widespread as is projected or claimed and that organizations like the HRCP are pursuing a
    'foreign agenda' by highlighting this problem. This only worsens the situation. As things stand, honour killings and murders over dowry are frightfully on the increase
    and the tribal jirgas continue to support and justify these murders, with women being the victims in most cases. The killers are lionized as brave upholders of a "sacred"
    custom and this only illustrates how badly we have regressed as a nation and society in acquiescing in this and many other brutal and barbaric customs and traditions.

    Pakistan's international standing has taken a severe battering because of this issue. The European Union, Amnesty International and various other organizations have
    strongly condemned these and have demanded that the government take a more active interest in trying to check the practice. As usual, there is no response from the
    government side. With a military-led government now in place, which has very few political compulsions and constraints of an elected regime, it is time that this issue
    was recognized for what it is and at least some initiative was taken to discourage violence against women. Unless this is done, hundreds of people will continue to die
    for no fault of theirs - only to satisfy the false sense of honour of some practitioners of tribal and feudal values whose actions have brought disgrace to the country.

    Thank you Suhail for this interesting article from the newspaper.

    What are your thoughts on the subject? Perhaps if you shared your viewpoint we could discuss the subject....


      Thank you Suhail for bringing this matter to the Forum's attention.

      My thoughts are:
      The situation of Women has not changed/improved rather it has worsened. We need some kind of a Neighbourhood Watch all across the country managed by dedicated women to keep an eye on the well-being of women in their mohalla.

      Women do not have equal access to education, health or the law, as their testimony is considered one-half of a man; as such, it is very difficult or almost impossible for women to press charges. As such, we need to encourage the hirings of female constable or police officers.

      Women are afraid to speak openly because they are afraid of reprisals. And, reprisals most often comes from their near & dear ones - honour killings & dowry-related killings has been documented as a serious outcome of women who choose to speak out or challenge traditions. Again, this is where the Neighbourhood/Mohalla Watch, spoken about earlier, can be useful as deterrent.

      Things are much worse in smaller communities and rural areas. Education of the local mosque imam to the women's distress is seriously recommended.

      The best testimony to the plight of women can be summed up by this statement from Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. Mr. Karl Inderfurth who was speaking on Afghanistan but it equally applies to Pakistan:

      US Dept. of State

      "Promoting human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls, is one of our highest priorities in Afghanistan today," Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth said in remarks to the New York Council on Foreign Relations January 27.

      "We recognize and respect the traditional and Islamic nature of society in Afghanistan, as we do elsewhere," Inderfurth said. "Nevertheless, to quote the First Lady's presentation at the White House last December, abuses of anyone's fundamental freedoms 'are not customs. They are not religious practices. They are human rights violations.'"

      [This message has been edited by faceup (edited January 29, 2000).]


        Yessh Thank you sohail...actually i was gona put on this topic few weeks back when i saw one to many women being beat/harrased by thire men in parking lots on the shopping malls its a very bad and universal problem and i think those men who beat women are mentally turamtized by some 3rd party if not thire parents...anywaysss a tip to the women you dont need a nighborly watch you dont need nothinggg all you gota do and i hope you have courage to do soo...if man tries to beat you up or tries to hurt you just just ONE not hard but little hard kick or punch or something on his private parts(testes/sexual parts) will do the work and he wont be able to get up for other 20 mins you will have enough time to get away and get works as pepper spray just more effective... No i have not been through it and i wont never!


        Till next time***Keep_It_Simple_Stupid***