Islamabad: Violence against women increased in last year
ISLAMABAD: Law-enforcement agencies and human rights organisations working for the welfare of women failed to slow down the trend of violence against women in 2011.
According to incidents reported and registered at different forums (police stations, courts and complaint cells), there was an increase in crimes against women in 2011, 8,000 cases were reported, a 13 per cent increase since 2008. These crimes ranged from domestic violence to physical and sexual assaults.
This number is still unrepresentative of the issue on the ground, as our social norms prevent a large majority of the cases from being reported, Omer Aftab, National Coordinator of White Ribbon Campaign Pakistan (WRCP), told Dawn.
Bani Amin, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Islamabad, said that cases filed at women police stations remained in double digits for all months of the year.
There were many cases in 2011 in which women could not get justice because the police were slow to take action. Two notable cases were of two young women Huma Rehman and Binish Fatima.
On January 12, 2011, Binish Fatima, a student of BBA, was kidnapped by three men while coming back to her house from a local tuition centre. Her brother, Tahir Hussain, filed an application with the Sihala Police and nominated the suspect but the police insisted that she had run away and laughed off the matter. It took them two weeks to register an FIR.
Binish`s body was found in Karachi in February the 20-year old had been gang-raped and then murdered.
Similarly on February 25, 2011, Huma Rehman, employed by a local NGO, was gang-raped, severely tortured and poisoned. By the time she was brought to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, she had suffered extensive brain damage and had to be put on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. It took the Kohsar Police Station three weeks to register an FIR and arrest one accused. However, the 25-year old remained on the ventilator for a month but showed no chance of recovery and had to be taken off it.
It is not known if any progress has been made on either case.
`Unfortunately whenever a woman files an application against her family member, the issue is resolved through a `patch-up` or `reconciliation` Influential family members become judges and give decisions,` the IGP said. `However, in case of dispute between two tribes or opposing groups, women are still able to get justice as their familiesare far more supportive of their stance then. It will take some years before women will rise for their rights,` the IGP added.
Mr Aftab said: `Women who work late hours with male colleagues were especially vulnerable to assault. On the other hand, non-working women face domestic violence. There are two ways to get rid of that issue: one, ensure proper implementation of law and second, by spreading awareness among both genders about it.
Mr Aftab added that media had still not warmed up to the idea of giving women-related matters more space. `There is a need to give a positive image of women through the media, as it has the power to influence the mind-set of the masses,` he added.
Saeeda Iqbal, part of the Senate Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights and Parliamentary Affairs, told Dawn that the attitude toward women is slow to change: `People claim that they are educated but they torture their female family members.
When the Domestic Violence Bill was submitted in the National Assembly, a local female parliamentarian stood against it. Education or rather literacy makes no difference. To bring change we have to create awareness at grass-roots level at schools and mosques,` she concluded.