PESHAWAR: It was ominous when on just the second day of the year a woman walked into a police station and set herself on fire. Officers took their time in responding to the searing sight as the woman suffered which were ultimately fatal burns.
Since that incident two months ago, which took place in the provincial capital, more than 54 cases of violence against women have been perpetrated in the province, including some which have drawn the attention of the top court. Justice in most of those cases, however, remains elusive.
A database of incidents of violence against women collected by a local non-governmental organization (NGO) using newspaper reports as the basis for their data recorded, at least 18 major incidents of violence against women, including honour killings, across the province were committed in January. This doubled to 37 in February.
The data, though, only shows a partial picture since a number of cases are never reported in the media, while a fraction is not even reported to police.
The first incident of violence in 2018 occurred when a woman, identified as Salma, walked into the Kotwali police station in Peshawar and set herself on fire. She was apparently protesting against the release of a house owner she had a dispute with. The woman suffered extensive burns and succumbed to her injuries in Islamabad days later.
This incident was followed by the brutal murder of a couple in Toru Mayar area of Mardan. The two had eloped and had allegedly been killed in the name of honour.
Another woman was gunned down by family members in Mansehra who had contracted love marriage 15 years ago.
On January 8, a boy killed his stepmother in the Saddar area of Mardan. A day later, another couple was killed in Dir, apparently in the name of honour.
The same day, a man killed his wife in the Doranpur area of Mardan.
Days later, well-known stage actor Brekhna was killed along with her father by her suitor in the Kakshal area of the city. The man later committed suicide.
On January 18, brothers strangled their sister in DI Khan in another honour killing case.
On January 28, a newlywed bride was killed in Kohat.
A day later, a medical student Asma Rani was killed in Kohat by two brothers after she rebuffed advances. The case drew the attention of the apex court. Recently her family’s request to move the case from Kohat to Peshawar was also granted.
The next day a man threw acid on his wife and stepdaughter in Batkhela area of Malakand.
In Parang, Charsadda, a girl was filmed naked by two boys.
A boy killed his stepmother and then dumped her body in a deserted area within the remits of Mathra police station.
It was followed by the killing of two sisters in the Pishtakhara area on the outskirt of Peshawar. These two were also apparently killed in the name of honour since they were seen as making a living by dancing, something which was unacceptable to their brothers.
On February 2, a local singer Sumbal was gunned down allegedly by Jehangir Khan – the same man who had previously killed Ghazala Javed in Peshawar.
On February 7, a married woman committed suicide in the Budhani area of Peshawar due to unknown reasons. The same day, an 18-year-old girl committed suicide in Mardan.
Separately on the same day, Momina was apparently killed for honour by her in-laws after she was allegedly spotted with her lover in Nisata, Charsadda.
On February 9, a man killed his sister-in-law in Kolai area of Kohistan when he spotted her with a man. When his mother tried to save the woman, she was also killed. The accused lover was also killed.
On February 11, in Topi area of Swabi, a man allegedly killed his wife, cut up the body into pieces and then buried them inside his house. The next day in Bannu, a man killed his wife in Kachi Camp.
On February 13, another woman was killed by her husband in Bannu due to unidentified reasons.
Though there was a ban on celebrating Valentine’s Day publicly, there was no ban on violence against women on the day after a man killed his wife, a mother of three, in Akora Khattak area of Nowshera. He then left the body in the house and fled with his three children.
On February 15, a woman committed suicide after a verbal dispute with her husband in Urmar Payan area on the outskirts of Peshawar. A woman also committed suicide in Jehangirabad area of Peshawar the same day.
On February 16 a man and his sister-in-law were killed by unidentified assailants in Bannu.
On February 17, a woman was allegedly raped inside her vehicle by a policeman in Haripur.
The next day, a teenaged girl who was assisting her elder sister during the polio vaccination campaign was abducted by unidentified people in Sheikhan. She was found unconscious from a nearby graveyard a few hours later with officials claiming that she was not raped.
On February 20, another local singer, dancer and actor Noor Sher was killed by her husband Malik Sheraz in Abbottabad. They had divorced just five days after their marriage.
The same day, a man and his father attacked his wife in Chamkani area of Peshawar because the woman had filed for divorce. She, however, survived with injuries.
On February 22, a man killed his daughter in Ogai area of Torghar along with her suitor Muhammad Saeed, ostensibly for honour.
Similarly, a girl was slaughtered by her brother and cousin in Abbottabad inside their residence when she was found to be pregnant on February 24.
On February 26, a young girl was killed by a man and his father when the family refused to accept their marriage proposal in the Pishtakhara area of Peshawar.
On February 27, a girl was killed by her brother in the Katlang area of Mardan after she refused to make tea for him.
Rights activist Tamure Kamal told The Express Tribune said that it was unfortunate that violence against women continues unabated despite the fact that there is proper legislation in this regard.
Another rights activist, Imran Takkar said that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police, like those in the rest of the country, are not gender sensitive. Moreover, continued violence against women only shows that government policies have failed.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2018.