Four in every five women in Pakistan face some form of domestic abuse, says a strategy paper.
The report was one of the two documents discussed at an event attended by various non-governmental organisations, campaigning under the banner “We Can”. The two critical documents were an impact assessment report and a strategy paper.
According to the strategy paper, 80 per cent of Pakistani women experience domestic violence, while one in every three experiences some form of violence such as rape, honour killing, immolation, acid attacks and verbal or psychological abuse.
Women are not only weak and poor in Pakistani society, but bear another form of discrimination in the shape of laws that are made to subjugate and oppress them, the paper added.
Almost all the indicators related to women’s rights show that Pakistan has extremely high levels of gender discrimination and is among one of the few countries to have a negative sex ratio with 100 women to 108.5 men.
Quoting human development reports, the paper states that Pakistan ranks 136 on a list of 177 developing countries on the Human Development Index, 82 on a list of 93 countries on the Gender Development Index and 152 on a list of 156 countries on Gender Empowerment Measures.
The paper holds the “patriarchal value system” responsible for expressions of violence against women, which is influenced by “comprador capitalisms, feudalism and tribalism,” by which women are dominated and confined to the realm of homes and private lives.
Neva Khan, Country Head of Oxfam GB, Dr Noureen Khalid, Manager of End Violence Against Women, Javed Hasan, a public policy expert, Bushra Zulfiqar, a gender activist, Harris Khalique, author of the strategy paper, Amina Qadir, author of the impact report and various other civil society representatives were present on the occasion.
Launched in 2005, “We Can” focuses strongly on the denial of the reality of domestic violence in all its manifestations. It aims to engage public opinion on the issue of violence against women and create mass awareness on the issue.
Javed Hassan said, “Dogmatic obscurantism is the root cause of violence toward women. It is a consequence of intellectual degeneration and moral turpitude, which we must fight against if we truly want to revive a progressive society.” He considered violence against woman as “a symptom of a disease.”
“Women in our country are considered as commodities or pieces of furniture,” he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, Neva Khan said, “I take pride when I look back to the achievements of women from all walks of life in Pakistan who have very bravely stood against all forms of violence and discrimination. Nonetheless, the journey does not end here and there is a lot we have to do to bring together many scattered patches of success into a unified struggle for a promising future.”
She expressed her concern over 4,000 cases of domestic violence reported in 2010 and urged the dire need for relevant legislation.
Khalique opined that violence against women was likely to increase in the future.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2011.