Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By our correspondent
The conviction rate in violence against women in Pakistan is not more than one to two per cent, Aurat Foundation Resident Director Anis Haroon said during the launch of a report about violence against women in Sindh in the last quarter of 2008.
“Out of 403 cases identified, 64 women and 19 men were killed in karo-kari (honour killing) in Sindh during the last quarter of 2008. Twenty-two women faced murder attempts, 60 women were kidnapped and 32 were injured. There were nine cases of domestic violence, 33 women committed suicide, 32 women attempted suicide, 19 women were raped, 12 were gang-raped, 11 faced sexual assault and 40 became victims of custodial violence. There were three cases of acid burning, eight women faced violence in the name of customary practices and eight were sold in the province,” Haroon said.
The report pointed out that despite the ban imposed by the Sindh High Court (SHC), as many as 30 jirgas were held in the province on women-related issues and 17 women and girls were given as compensation to settle tribal conflicts. Six cases were registered against jirga holders and parents and some of them were arrested.
The report said that the number of registered First Information Reports (FIRs) on violence against women during the period was 198. However, in 125 cases, FIRs could not be registered while in 31 cases, the status of FIRs could not be ascertained.
The report said that most of the accused were male members of the women’s families. Sixty-three of them were husbands, 65 were close relatives, five were brothers, four were cousins, two were uncles, and three were parents. Nineteen police personnel, five people persons from same tribes, 25 area residents, five neighbours, one son-in-law, five robbers, two lawyers, 10 members of rival tribes and five sons were also involved. In 83 cases, the relationship of the accused with the victim could not be ascertained.
In Karachi alone, 194 women and girls were raped or sexually assaulted during the last nine months. All these cases were reported to medico-legal officers (MLOs) but they were not reported in the media because in most cases, their FIRs were not established.
“Cases are not investigated if FIRs have not been established,” Haroon said. “There should be a one-window facility in rape cases since evidence is lost if a woman has to be produced at several places.”
She went on to say that police posts should be established in hospitals so that FIRs could be established there. Haroon said that the Aurat Foundation was not in favour of capital punishment, and other steps should be taken to punish criminals.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA Humaira Alwani said that as the fourth pillar of the State, the media was playing a positive role in highlighting the cases of violence against women. She said that every civil hospital in the province should have a female MLO. She agreed that women police stations should play a proactive role in apprehending people involved in violence against women.
Nusrat Saher Abbasi, an MPA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that Pakistan has entered the 21st century but sadly enough “we were still witnessing violence against women”. She said that women have been allocated 33 per cent representation in assemblies and even though the PPP chairperson late Benazir Bhutto had zero tolerance for violence against women but the present government has failed to implement laws on this issue.