Domestic Violence and Rape
After giving birth to five girls and being continuously tortured by her husband for not conceiving a boy, Faizan Mai, a distraught thirty-five year old Pakistani woman, killed herself and her two youngest daughters in 2002 by jumping in front of a moving train when her husband declared he would marry another woman that could give him a son. Studies on violence against women estimate that a woman in Pakistan is raped every two hours; approximately 70-90 percent of women suffer from some form of domestic violence; and there were at least 3,296 cases of violence against women in 2002. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) documented 895 cases of abuse against women for the first part of 2003, consisting of 260 murders and 124 cases of gang rape. Barriers such as social stigma, legislation that punishes victims, economic dependency, and lack of access to information about their rights prevent women and girls from reporting domestic violence and rape. Nearly 50 percent of women who do report rape are jailed under the Hudood Ordinances, which criminalizes extramarital sexual relations, including rape. The Hudood Ordinances, implemented in 1979, abolished recognition and punishment for marital rape. Pakistan has no specific legislation against domestic violence and police are reluctant to get involved in "family matters." HRW's 1999 Crime or Custom? documents the lack of response and hostility women victims of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence face due to rampant incompetence, corruption, and biases against women throughout the criminal justice system.
Also commonly referred to as "karo kuri" or "tur," honor killings are a custom where male relatives kill sisters, daughters, or other female family members to avenge the shame she is accused of bringing to the family. Usually there is only an allegation that a woman had an illicit sexual affair and the woman is...