Monday, 13 January 2014

The appalling state of domestic violence in Pakistan

Or more correctly, the appalling state of the role of women in Pakistan.

First, the light at the end of the tunnel: one province, Punjab, has enacted domestic violence laws, and advocates are calling for the other provinces to do the same. Wonderful! The sooner the better.

However, little action seems to be forthcoming, and what is occurring is in circumstances that are terrible for the women in Pakistan. This is according to a report in the News International, a Pakistan online newspaper.

Let's start with comparatives. In Western countries such as Australia, it is commonly estimated that in a lifetime between 1/4 and 1/3 of women will be subjected to domestic violence from their partners- whether it be emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or some other form of abuse.

The figures from Pakistan are off the dial. According to Kanwal Qayyum from Rutgers WPF, an NGO specialising in reproductive rights, 85% of women suffered violence from their partners, or to put it another way only about 1 in 7 women didn't, and almost half or 47% of women copped violence from their partners during pregnancy.

Unbelievably it gets worse.

The perpetrators of violence are not only male partners. They extend to fathers (58%), mothers (32%), stepfathers (7%), and other male/female family members (24%), according to one speaker.

According to another expert, perpetrators of domestic violence are the husbands in 71% of cases, and mothers-in-law in almost 10% of cases.

But that's not all! A solid majority of women have been subject to both physical and sexual violence in the last year: 56.3% of women were subject to physical violence in the last year, 57.6% over a lifetime; and 53.4% of women were subject to sexual violence in the last year, 54.5% over a lifetime, according to Dr Tazeen Ali from Aga Khan University.

By comparison, the 2012 Personal Safety Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics says that 1.2% of Australian women were subjected to sexual violence in the last year and 4.6% were subjected to physical violence in the last year, and 20% for sexual violence and about 35% for physical violence over a lifetime.

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