An overwhelming 74 per cent of the women surveyed by Rutgers WPF had been victims of physical domestic violence, Natasha Sajjad, of Rutgers WPF, said on Tuesday.
She was speaking at a roundtable conference on Domestic Violence in the Punjab organised by Rutgers WPF, in collaboration with the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) and Mumkin Alliance.
According to a recent WPF study of domestic violence in six districts of Pakistan, Sajjad said, 58 per cent of the women surveyed said they had suffered sexual abuse and 72 per cent had undergone psychological violence by their husbands or other family members in the last year.
She said 53% of the women had been physically abused by people other than their husbands. According to the study, 47% of the women had been physically abused by their husbands during pregnancy. Sixty two per cent said they had seen their fathers abusing their mothers.
Fauzia Viqar of Shirkat Gah said, “Domestic violence is generally considered to be a private matter and even state institutions ascribe to that...this mindset must change.”
The civil society has developed a draft bill to address domestic violence, she said.
Irfan Mufti, of SAP-PK, said that Punjabi society was growing increasingly intolerant. More than 15,000 women from minority groups had been forcibly converted to Islam, he said.
Hasna Cheema of the Aurat Fundation urged the need to engage religious scholars in mitigating domestic violence.
MPA Najma Afzal stressed the need to introduce chapters on violence against women in the schools curriculum.
Psychologist Maqbool Babri said domestic violence affected the entire family, especially the children.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2013.