LAHORE: As many as 230 complaints, out of a total 841, received from August 2014 to May 2017 on the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) helpline, were related to criminal offences against women. The majority of the cases occurred in Lahore and Faisalabad.
The data released by the PCSW revealed that as many as 137 complaints (16.29%) were related to property disputes, 133 complaints (15.81%) were related to violence/torture, 101 complaints (12%) were related to harassment, 62 (7.6%) complaints were related to employment/job, 47 complaints (5.58%) were related to family issues, 26 (3%) of total complaints were related to harmful traditional practices, 17 (2%) of total complaints were related to police related issues and education each. Other complaints included health, financial support, revenue related issues, political violence and general inquiry.
The data further showed that Lahore topped with complaints related to criminal offences against women as 43 cases were reported. Lahore was followed by Faisalabad with 17 cases, Khanewal 15, Sialkot 14, 13 in Muzzafargarh, Kasur 10, Gujrat, Gujranwala and Bahawalpur 9 each, eight from Multan and seven each from Rawalpindi and Sahiwal respectively.
Lahore also topped in complaints related to complaints regarding property matters where 38 complaints were received. Lahore was followed by Jhang, Faisalabad with nine complaints each, Bahawalpur with eight, Bahawalnagar, Multan and Pakpattan with six complaints each. Rest of 137 complaints regarding property matters were received in other districts.
Lahore topped in complaints against torture, violence also where 53 cases were also reported. Lahore was followed by Gujranwala with 10 complaints. Rests of the complaints were received from other districts of Punjab.
PCSW chairperson Fauzia Viqar said complaints related to crime against women and domestic violence were more in number because when the complainants go to police, their cases were not taken seriously and they come to us for help.
Talking about huge numbers of complaints related to property matters/inheritance said civil matters took more time to settle down in routine due to complicated procedures and different flaws. This inordinate delay is faced by everyone including women.
Commenting on higher number of complaints from urban centres, she said there was more awareness in urban centres as compared to rural centres due to different factors like education, media, sensitisation by different organisations. Awareness not only made a person conscious about his/her rights, it also guided them to acquire these rights. She further commented that in rural areas women were not aware of their rights. Many violations against their rights including domestic violence are normalised, she commented.
Fauzia Viqar further said that their report was published in September. To date complaints at Women Helpline have crossed 1200.
Aurat Foundation Regional Director Mumtaz Mughal said urban centres were more populated as compared to rural centres. It is one factor of more complaints from urban centers. Secondly, level of awareness is much higher in urban centers as compared to rural centers, she added.
They had easier access to register their complaints than victims from rural centers. Role of media also played a role in it. Media was more concentrated in urban centers as compared to rural centers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2017.