Women face violence because of an imbalance of power in society. We have observed a massive rate of domestic violence among women and children during the recent lockdowns imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Although, there is no doubt that all citizens of Pakistan are equal but, unfortunately, women are not treated like men in our society. These views were expressed by the Vice Chancellor University of Karachi Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi while addressing a conference on “Understanding violence against women in Pakistan – Causes and Trends” held at the Arts and Social Sciences Auditorium on Thursday.

The conference was organized by the KU the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Studies in Collaboration with UN Women and the KU Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization.

He emphasized addressing the root causes for eliminating violence against women, and also reporting cases for implementing the laws in its true spirit. He urged parents that both genders must be nurtured equally from their childhood.

The KU VC Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi emphasized that cases must be reported for the implementation of laws and legislation in the country otherwise, solutions to the problem could not find out for ending violence against women.

Meanwhile, UN Women Deputy Country Representative Jacqui Ketunuti through the video link shared that the trend of sexual harassment among women has reached alarming levels, which need to be addressed in a timely manner. The policymakers must work together to find effective solutions to the problem of violence against women.

She mentioned that the conference theme was of orange color where she explained that orange color depicts the bright future for women and she opted for a bright future of women in Pakistan as to end all forms of violence against women.

Jacqui Ketunuti said that civil society, the private sector, and community representatives can be proven productive in ending violence against women.

Another speaker, the Chairperson Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, and President Aurat Foundation Dr Masuma Hasan while delivering the keynote address on reasons for increasing violence against women in Pakistan talk in detail about violence and types of violence.

She briefed that femicide is most common around the globe, India is being called the rape capital of the world, and the ratio of violence among girls and women has been increased in Covid-19. Dr Masuma Hasan mentioned that developing nations have provided helpline numbers for reporting the cases related to violence during the lockdown and also open shelter homes for victims.

She informed the audience that in some Latin American countries killing of women is common and women feel more insecure. The relatives or neighbors are often involved in the rape and murder of women and children. She shared that each year around 1000 women in Pakistan are killed in the name of honor.

Dr Masuma also discussed the situation of Pakistan, where girls’ children were abused and their bodies were found in the garbage, Zainab case was similar, honor killing and kidnapping are common while settling family disputes, blackmailing through the internet, cybercrime is increasing faster pace nowadays which is brutally damaging the socio-economic condition of women in Pakistan.

According to her, the Hudood Ordinance is an obstacle for women while providing legal aid, in this law women are convicted of adultery when she is unable to prove the rape. Other than that under the law, the marriage age is 18 but still, many child marriages have taken place in our country.

“Though we have laws where the culprit will have fine and imprisonment due to underreporting they are not implemented. We have an alarming rate of suicide where women feel stigmatized and avoid facing people and committing suicide.”

Earlier, the Dean Arts and Social Sciences Professor Dr Nusrat Idress said that women faced violence inside and outside the house, and the majority of cases do not report due to the reason we are failed to stop this menace from our societies.

She has mentioned the causes of violence for instance lack of social, economic, and political support. Meanwhile, giving a reference to the World Economic Forum report, she mentioned that Pakistan stands at 153 out of 156 countries in Global Gender Gap 2021 which is considered the worst among the regional countries.

Professor Dr Anila Amber Malik of KU Department of Psychology said that violence against women is on the rise in modern societies and its effects on the mental and physical health of women are increasing. “Violence against women can be stopped only by raising voice against violence instead of remaining silent. Only by providing rights and empowerment to women on the basis of equality can the formation of a healthy society be ensured.”

Presenting her research paper, Professor Zainab F. Zadeh from the United Kingdom said that according to the World Health Organization, 736 to 852 million, or one in three women aged 15 years and above, have experienced violence at least once in their lives.

She shared that the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey report shows that 34 percent of ever-married women have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence, and seven percent of women who have ever been pregnant have experienced violence during pregnancy.

Dr Naima Saeed and Lt Col Rana Atif from the Department of Criminology University of Karachi give situational analysis on gender-based violence with reference to Pakistani society. They shared that nearly six of 10 women around the world suffer some kind of violence in their lifetime.

Mehnaz Rehman, Resident Director, Aurat Foundation, presented a paper on social and economic reasons for violence against women. 

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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