Lahore: Domestic violence against women increased in 2011
LAHORE: The number of reported cases of domestic violence against women in Pakistan witnessed a rising trend in 2011, and innumerable more unreported incidents and cases; yet the state has consistently refused to give legal recognition to this serious and deep-rooted issue. These were opening remarks of a report titled ‘VAW (Violence Against Women) in Pakistan — a qualitative review of statistics 2011’, launched by the Aurat Foundation. This state of affairs continues to perpetuate the public/private divide, as some people think whatever happens at home should not be brought into the public realm.
However, by the state remaining a silent spectator, and the law enforcing mechanism passive on this issue, such violence is overlooked by the government and society.
Treating domestic violence as a private affair has given protection to perpetrators and has led to the victimisation of women.
The report revealed that a total of 8,539 VAW cases were reported in Pakistan in 2011, which is 6.74 percent higher than the cases reported in 2010.
In 42.78 percent cases, the victims were married women whereas almost 39 percent were unmarried and 1.46 percent were widows or divorced.
According to the report, the highest number of the cases involved abduction and kidnapping which was followed by murder, rape and gang rape. The most common crime against women was honour killing with 266 such cases having been reported in the province last year. It was followed by murder (255 cases), domestic violence (137 cases), suicide (117 cases), Vani/customary practices (87 cases), custodial violence (84 cases) and rape/gang rape (68 cases).
Around 15 percent of victims were less than 18 years of age. The report said that in a large number of incidents, FIRs were not lodged. Among the total 8,539 incidents, FIR was registered in 6,745 cases whereas no FIR was registered in 911 cases and there was no information available in 883 cases. In some forms of violence there has been notable increase, for instance, sexual assault has increased by 48.65 percent, acid throwing by 37.5 percent, honour killings by 26.57 percent, and domestic violence has been increased by 25.51 percent.
A majority of the cases were reported from Punjab where 6,188 violence incidents and the largest number of abduction cases were reported. In Sindh, most perpetrated crime against women was honour killing while topping the list of violence reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was murder.
According to the report, the largest number of VAW cases (133) were reported in Sukkur, which was closely followed by Jacobabad (132) and Ghotki (121).
The report said that poor investigation and prosecution as well as under-developed forensic facilities/expertise was the main cause of the very low rate of convictions in general criminal cases and even lower rate of conviction in the VAW cases, in which discriminatory societal attitudes also played a major role. The society was less sensitised towards the issues relating to violence against women, it added.
The report stressed the need to change the mindset of society for eradicating violence against women. The report also criticised the negative aspects of tribal culture, which has little space for women and where women are killed in the name of ‘honour’ and are given away in dispute settlement. Domestic violence against women increased in 2011