Forms of Violence Against Women in Pakistan
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 never given a chance to offer her side of the story. For instance, in January 2002, Jehahgiran, a domestic worker, was killed by her brother when he suspected her of having an illicit affair. Often jirgas, or tribal councils sanction these murders. Honor killings are equivalent to murder under the Pakistan Penal Code, but under the law, the family of the victim can compromise with the murderer. Therefore, a person who alleges that he killed in the name of honor may not be penalized if the family agrees to let him go. HRCP reported there were more than 450 honor killings in Pakistan in 2002 and forty-two new cases in the province of Punjab between January and April of 2003. Kamila Hyat of HRCP said, "one of the main reasons why honor killings are increasing is because people are getting away with it, and there is poor prosecutions. Only 20 percent of cases are brought to justice."
Sakina, twenty-two years old, and her fifteen-year-old sister, Shahina, were scarred for life after Sakina's husband,Zahid Nawaz, poured acid over them after an argument over his gambling and drinking habits. 70 percent of Sakina's body was burned, while Shahina was hit in the face and blinded. Police have made no attempt to arrest Nawaz, and the sisters live in fear of another attack. Nearly 280 women were killed and 750 were injured in 2002 from acid attacks. Acid burns rarely kill but result in serious disfigurement and suffering which confine women to their homes leading to social isolation and depression. Although women have protested the open sale of acid, it is still easily available.
Raqia Glum turned to her father-in-law when her husband beat her, but he instead ordered that she be burned after her husband accused her of stealing less than $35 from his wallet. Her husband and brother-in-law doused her in oil and lit a match. When police came to investigate, Raqia's brother told them it was a suicide attempt and no charges were made. 95 percent of...
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