A continuum of gender-based violence – 05 Dec 2022

The societal mindset of Pakistan, represented in its deeply patriarchal society, perpetuates gender-based violence

The societal mindset of Pakistan, represented in its deeply patriarchal society, perpetuates gender-based violence. As a nation yearly scoring amongst the worst societies for women, Pakistan has ranked 164/167 on the Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace, and Security index. According to a Reuters Foundation Report, Pakistan is the 6th most dangerous country for women overall and the 5th worst in terms of domestic violence practices. Statistics available in domestic surveys are no less abhorrent, suggesting up to 70-90% of married women in Punjab face abuse of one form or another, whether physical, psychological, or economic, from their spouses.

From a legal standpoint, legislators have actively partaken in culminating societal practices of spousal and domestic violence these past years, enacting new statutes and amending previously inadequate ones, to ensure a safer married environment for women. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2020 at the federal level, and similar statutes enacted through the provincial assemblies aim towards curbing societal tolerance of domestic abuse. These laws have been introduced with the objective of establishing an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women…against domestic violence. While the nation overflows with statutes affording protection to women, there is yet to be the actual implementation of any of these provisions in their true letter and spirit.

The reserved usage of domestic violence laws in Pakistan cannot merely be associated with the incapacity and incompetence of the local law enforcement or the judicial system. As both seem preoccupied with offences of a “more serious” nature, and budgetary limitations often lead to the prioritisation of heinous crimes over domestic abuse matters, till such abuse takes a severe turn. Even with legislative criminalisation of physical, psychological and monetary abuses at home, spousal relations are still widely deemed as domestic matters, best solved within the domestic setting. The notion itself acts as a deterrent for battered and abused women to reach out for help from the police.

At the ground level, women of this country are stuck in a “continuum of violence”, a term depicting a never-ending cycle of abuse, separate from the solitary moment or location in which it occurs. When applied in the context of Pakistan, it elucidates our failure to curb violence against women, as violence is not just limited to actual physical or emotional tortures our women face. Abuse also results from parental, familial and societal reactions, which require women to stay in such violent settings. Gendered hierarchies and patriarchal structures, which have held women back from fighting for their rights, continue to entrap them in vicious cycles of violence they rarely manage to escape from. Most women continue to suffer trauma well after the actual traumatic act, due to a lack of parental support for a divorcee daughter. The notion of ‘live or die but only at the husband’s house’ is so engrained in girls that in many cases they do end up paying with their lives rather than returning to their parents. Financial expenditures on daughters are reserved for their weddings and dowries, rather than their education, which makes them financially dependent on their husbands and incapable of attaining sufficient independence to leave their spousal homes. The fear of their child’s future is so deeply ingrained in abused mothers that they will continue to suffer than allow their child to be judged by societal paradigms. These considerations, along with the fear of hardships as a divorcee, impede women from raising their voices against an abusive husband.

This year, more than 63,367 cases of domestic crimes were reported; those unreported are extensively greater. Till such time as this continuum of violence is not defeated and our society does not side with the abused woman, women of Pakistan will only suffer, no matter what legislative initiatives are taken to safeguard them.

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Vehicles of toxicity – 05 Dec 2022

The alarming levels of smog in Lahore are once again causing major concerns for the denizens of Lahore while the authorities appear to be failing in their duties. Though the city traffic police has announced various initiatives to tighten the control on polluting vehicles, according to reports there are still over 40 per cent vehicles that emit smoke and contribute to the smog. The registered number of vehicles in Lahore has increased to seven million, and if 40 per cent are emitting toxic fumes in the atmosphere the number of such vehicles must be at least three million. This is a staggering number of polluting vehicles for any city. The provincial capital of Punjab is not the only city that is facing this problem; the increasing surge in the number of motorcycles and ramshackle buses and vans across the country has become a serious threat to the environment.

Nowhere in Pakistan is there an effective mechanism to award fitness certificates to vehicles. In nearly all major cities in the world there is restriction on vehicles that lack proper fitness certificates, but not in this country. Even cars and other light vehicles such as auto rickshaws have become a major contributor to air pollution resulting in smog. In addition to the registered vehicles there is a large number of unregistered ones on the roads both in rural and urban areas. It is not only the smog that these vehicles contribute to, there is perennial traffic congestion too on most roads across the country. Lahore is one of those cities which witnesses massive gridlocks regularly on main arteries and side roads. And such busy areas are mostly the most affected by air pollution and smog.

Pakistan is a country that spends huge amounts on the import of fuels from other countries. With increasing traffic mess there is more smoke in the air and the country also ends up spending more on fuel imports. A large chunk of the cost of this fuel and the smog in the cities can be tackled if the state and the government were to focus on providing affordable public transport to all. Not public transport that is taken only as a last resort – but public transport that is accessible to all, regardless of gender or age or class. We need buses and trains, not cars and motorbikes. Until Pakistan gets its major cities’ transportation woes in order the air in those cities will just continue to keep getting smoggier. Granted that vehicular smoke is not the only factor leading to the toxic air we are breathing, but it certainly does add considerably to it. For the health of both our pockets and our persons, a public transport system is most essential.

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For an empowered woman – 05 Dec 2022

Fatima is one of the most popular names in Pakistan, named after the Prophet’s (pbuh) daughter. Fatima (a.s.) in history was a leader, an empowered woman who played vital roles in support of her father and afterwards to her family. She was a trusted woman. Therefore, she could do much and achieve extraordinarily; she was given an opportunity to learn, participate, and teach.

Girls in Pakistan deserve the opportunity to not only be empowered but also to help their family members and the local community. Two months ago, the media was awash with reports of a young girl in the flood-hit area in Sindh who was allegedly tortured and raped by men who kidnapped her on the pretext of giving her food rations. This is not an isolated case; women are at a higher risk of violence, especially when they get displaced in a humanitarian situation. Many of them report facing harassment.

These are but a few stories of Pakistani women and girls who frequently must contend with gender-based violence (GBV). However, the stories of resilience and courage are many too.

The recent history of Pakistan reveals that many women rose from being ordinary girls, experienced times of fear and hurt, but never gave up. These women continue to be an inspiration by showing courage and resilience. Such women and girls are assets to the nation. They, however, need as much support from all fronts: from within the families, communities, and society.

We all need to support the movement for women and girls to always enjoy their rights.

Recent research reveals that when women can take care of their health, all families become healthier. Lessons from history tell us that nations can achieve little unless their women and girls are free of violence, able to enjoy all their rights and contribute to building their nations. Women and girls should in no way be a missed opportunity for the economy and social welfare. All girls and women should be given an opportunity to learn, participate, and speak out. Girls should be encouraged to dream and be supported to step out to achieve their potential.

Empowered girls play vital roles in support of their fathers and, afterwards, their families. They are trusted women; therefore, they could do much and achieve extraordinarily. Every girl and woman should be able to confidently say: ‘I can be successful, I am not afraid to speak my mind, and I am free of all kinds of violence’.

They need everyone’s support to flourish and be allowed to live free from all forms of violence and discrimination, to be educated and to participate fully in the country’s development.

The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is a time to mobilize more people to show solidarity and support to end VAWG at a time when the world is facing pushback against women’s rights.

One major component of violence we must fight is child marriage which continues to deprive girls of access to education, good health services, and their ability to enjoy the power of choice. Recent research by the UNFPA revealed that the power of choice is remarkable. If women and girls are empowered to choose what to be, when to marry, and how much and when to have children, all other demographic and development indicators develop naturally and in a balanced manner which will save billions of dollars that governments have to invest in fixing demographic and development indicators.

Empowering girls and women is not a women’s affair; it is everybody’s business and the duty of all sectors because a nation with empowered women free of violence is a nation without missed opportunities which is in the interest of all stakeholders.

A prosperous nation is a nation where its women say confidently: ‘we are successful, not afraid, and can speak our minds’ — and this sits well with all men and women.

Today, and always, is the time to ensure that interventions for the prevention, mitigation, and response to GBV are implemented and receive priority attention.

The writer is the UNFPA representative in Pakistan.

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Climate policy – 05 Dec 2022

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. The newly created office will work towards ensuring environmental justice and civil rights in overburdened communities, recognizing the link between environmental and human rights, especially the rights of marginalized and indigenous communities.

People’s right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment was first recognized through the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 76/300. The Escazu agreement is the first environmental treaty for Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Pakistan has already recognized the civil and political aspects of the environment by making it a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment, but has not practically done anything in this regard.

The destruction of the world’s fifth-largest mangrove forests and swamps on the Indus Delta coast threatens fishery resources and the livelihood of fishermen. In 2020, many areas in Sindh witnessed protests against the presidential ordinance that allowed the federal government to take over the Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi coastal islands.

In 2021, fishermen protested the federal government’s plans to grant fishing rights and issue licences to outside trawlers in Gwadar. This decision lacked legitimacy as it was not backed by the will of the coastal communities. What is at issue is whether the coastal communities have any say regarding their environmental and human rights under the 18th Amendment.

The rights of coastal states are addressed by the UN Seabed Committee and 2749(XXV) the UNGA resolution, and are dealt with under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982. Its preamble states that the states parties have agreed that the achievement of all goals “will contribute to the realization of a just and equitable international economic order which takes into account the interests and needs of mankind, and the special interests and needs of developing countries, whether coastal or land-locked”.

Article 2 of Section 1 of Part II says that the sovereignty of a coastal state extends beyond its land territory and internal waters and, in the case of an archipelagic state, its archipelagic waters, to an adjacent belt of sea, described as the territorial sea. Article 55 of Part V, defines the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea.

Article 56 states that in the EEZ, the coastal state has “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone”.

Instruments like the 1987 Treaty on Fisheries and the 1979 Fisheries Agency Convention promote cooperation among states on fisheries policies.

The state, therefore, can exercise sovereignty over its territorial waters, and explore and exploit the EEZ, but not at the cost of its vulnerable population. French political philosopher Jean Bodin’s statement on sovereignty is often misinterpreted because he emphasizes that sovereigns are bound by the laws of the state.

The International Court of Justice, in the 1951 fisheries case, while determining the limit of territorial sovereignty at sea, decided that traditional rights over fishing grounds are founded on the vital needs of the population under customary international law.

Being a coastal state, Pakistan enjoys many rights under this convention. It has several domestic laws, including the Fisheries Act 1897, and other provincial enactments. In 2019, Karachi was included in the jurisdiction of the Sindh Coastal Development Authority, which is responsible for the development of the coastal areas of Thatta, Badin and Sujawal.

However, the environmental, civil, political and human rights of Pakistan’s coastal provinces must be extended collaterally with the state’s sovereignty under the 18th Amendment. All decisions by the federal or provincial government are likely to lack legitimacy unless they are backed by the vulnerable communities, surviving and thriving on the natural resources at the coastal provinces.

Such decisions should not violate their right to life and employment, and these communities should be protected against displacement, which is not covered under domestic laws or international refugee law unless they cross international borders. It is also crucial to empower the environmental protection agencies of Pakistan and its coastal provinces in this regard.

It is imperative to go beyond the rights of coastal states and discuss the rights of those living in the coastal areas of Pakistan. The great Faiz Ahmad Faiz detailed such concerns in his movie ‘Jago Hua Savera’ (1959), based on the Bengali novel ‘Padma Nadir Majhi’ by Manik Bandopadhyay that highlights the plight of East Pakistan’s poor fishermen.

The writer is a lawyer and a faculty member at the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi.

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Main suspect ‘confesses’ to killing Sara Inam – 05 Dec 2022

Shahnawaz Amir, the prime suspect in the Sara Inam murder case, has confessed to killing his Pakistani-Canadian national wife, according to a charge sheet (challan) submitted by Islamabad police to the sessions court hearing the case.

According to the challan, the main accused told the police during the investigation that when Sara Inam did not send him money (sometime before her murder) she had a heated telephonic conversation with him and he divorced her on the phone.

The suspect told the police that after the divorce, Sara Inam reached Islamabad from Abu Dhabi on September 22.

The suspect told the police that she started arguing with him in the bedroom that night and demanded to return the money she had sent to him. On which, according to the police challan, the suspect first hit Sara Inam with a showpiece and injured her. When Sara Inam started making noise, the accused picked up a dumbbell and hit her several times on the head.

According to the challan, on the crime scene, Samina Shah, the mother of the main accused, told the police that her son had a fight with his wife Sara Inam and he killed her by hitting her on the head with a dumbbell. After the arrest, the main accused confessed that he killed his wife during a fight.

According to the challan, the main accused told the police that, he hid his wife’s body in a bathroom tub before it was recovered by the police on his identification.

According to the challan, the police also recovered the dumbbell with which the accused killed his wife. There were blood stains on the accused’s shirt, hands, and dumbbell. Five passports, five mobile phones and a copy of the marriage certificate were also seized from the accused, according to the police challan.

Shahnawaz was arrested by the police on September 23, on charges of murdering his wife, Judge Atta Rabbani will indict the main accused and his mother on Monday (today) and the trial will formally begin.

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Rape victim stages protest against police – 05 Dec 2022

LAHORE: A rape victim staged a protest demonstration outside Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence against the Lahore police for not arresting the rapists.

The victim “M”, who was raped in the Kot Lakhpat area, along with her children protested against the police for not arresting the accused. The victim said that she was raped three months ago by four accused. The woman alleged that Sub-Inspector Iram Shahzadi slapped her in front of the main accused Ikram and released the accused for a bribe. She demanded PTI Chairman Imran Khan take notice and order Punjab Chief Minister to arrest the accused.

15,959 outlaw arrested: Police arrested 15,959 law breakers and criminals under National Action Plan (NAP) this year. Police arrested 5,021 persons for carrying illegal weapons. Similarly, under National Action Plan, as many as 1,468 accused were arrested on violation of Security of Vulnerable Establishments Ordinance, 2,598 persons on violation of Sound System Regulation Ordinance, 6,659 persons on violation of Information of Temporary Residents Ordinance, 194 persons on charges of wall-chalking and 19 persons were arrested on charges of provocative contents.

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Man arrested for torture of transperson – 05 Dec 2022

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Police claimed to have arrested one of the suspects, who allegedly subjected a transperson to physical torture, for filing complaints to government officials against them, accusing them of drug peddling, in Khanpur Tehsil.

In the first information report (FIR), lodged with Rukanpur police, Farooq Sajna (a transperson) of Mouza Dhand Gagri, Khanpur tehsil, stated that she was returning home from Sardargarh with Ghulam Din of the same village on November 29, 2022, when at Araika Adda, the suspects Akbar, who was armed with a pistol, Saeed Arian, Jamil Arian and Salim, and four unidentified persons arrived there on motorcycles.

The complainant said the suspects started beating and slapping her, removed her trousers, kicked her and grabbed her hair.

She said some of the onlookers made footage of the incident.

She said two locals, Aad Dashti and Nasir Dashti, came there and rescued her.

Saina alleged that the suspects also took away her gold earrings and Rs71,070 from her wallet, and threatened her with dire consequences.

Explaining the reason for the grudge the attackers held against her, she said that the suspects were involved in drug peddling and she had filed many complaints to the government officers against them.

Rukanpur police, after registration of an FIR (No 537/22) under sections 354 and 379 of the Pakistan Penal Code, claimed to have arrested one of the suspects, Akbar.

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Married woman gang-raped – 04 Dec 2022

LAHORE: A married woman was gang-raped in Kahna police limits here on Saturday.

The victim, I, of Ghazi Road said she was visiting her sister’s house on Aahlo Road when prime suspect Nauman approached her on pretext of selling her an LCD.

He took her to a house in a nearby village where five other suspects were present who gang-raped her. She said accused Nauman took her to another place where four other people gang-raped her. Police have arrested six suspects.

FIRING: Some unidentified men fired at the house of a member cantonment board in Factory Area. Victim Naeem But of Chungi Amar Sadhu alleged that four unidentified men fired at his house and fled. SP Cantonment Essa Sukhera said a case has been registered and police are using CCTV footages to arrest the suspects.

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Cop arrested for `rape` of detained suspect – 04 Dec 2022

GUJRAT: The Phalia police have arrested its own official on the chargesofrapingadetainedsuspect and extracting money from him through blackmail.

According to police sources, a 19-year-old youth `A` of Sohawa Warraichan village of Mandi Bahauddin, who is presently in the district jail on judicial remand, lodged a complaint with the Phalia police that an official of the police station had subjected him to sexual abuse and rape during his detention.

The complainant had been detained in the lock-up of Phalia police station, along with other suspects, in a theft case.

In his complaint, the youth alleged that a police official `H` of the same police station would often extract money from him and his family members, who would visit him during his detention in the lock-up.

He alleged that one day the policeman took him to his residential room on the police station`s premises, where he sexually abusedand raped him. He said `H` also threatened to kill him if he disclosed the rape episode. Acting on the complaint, Phalia police registered a case against `H` under sections 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code (carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal) and 155-C.

The policeman was arrested after Gujrat Regional Police Officer Dr Akhtar Abbas took notice of the complaint. The police have started investigation into the matter.

EXPAT KILLED: An expatriate Pakistani was shot dead over some land dispute in Chakrian village of Mungowal police precincts on Saturday.

Reports said Shahbaz Warraich was settled in Saudi Arabia and had come to his native village a few weeks ago.

He was cutting fodder at his outhouse when Anas Warraich along with an unidentified accomplice came on a motorbike and opened fire leaving him critically injured.

The injured man was shifted to Kunjah Tehsil Headquarters Hospital f rom where he was referred to Aziz Bhatti Shaheed TeachingHospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Police have registered a case against three suspects, including two nominated, under sections 302, 34 and109 of Pakistan Penal Code on the report of Shahbaz brother Riaz Warraich.

SHOT DEAD: A man was shot dead by armed men over a minor issue at Simbli village in Sara-iAlamgir Saddar police precincts.

According to police, an armed suspect, Atif Ijaz, accompanied by six others, opened fire at Raja Imran Iftikhar on Friday evening. As a result, Imran got seriously injured, while the armed attacker fled the scene.

The injured man was shifted to the Jhelum District Headquarters Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

The body was later brought to Sara-i-Alamgir Tehsil Headquarters Hospital where doctors conducted an autopsy after which the police handed it over to the victim`s f amily.

The police have registered a case against seven nominated suspects on the report of Zahid Hussain, a relative of the victim and started looking for the killers.

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Three tourists found dead in Murree hotel – 04 Dec 2022

ISLAMABAD: Three tourists died in mysterious circumstances at a private hotel in Murree.

According to locals, four friends booked a room in a hotel located at Dhana Area on Muree Expressway in the limit of Patriata police station.

They stayed over there, however, did not come out till Friday noon. To this, the hotel management opened the door to check, if they want to check out or will extend their stay.

To this, locals said that hotel management found three friends dead in mysterious circumstances while another was found unconscious.

Bodies and the unconscious person were shifted to Murree Tehsil Headquarters hospital.

Murree SHO Chaudhry Aslam while speaking to Dawn confirmed the death of three persons. He, however, did not share the cause of death saying investigations are underway.

An employee of the hotel said that the two deceased were residents of Sadiqabad area of Rawalpindi while one belonged to Aro Kas area of Murree. They all were young and in late 20s. While, the fourth one, who fell unconscious belonged to Gujranwala.

He said that deceased were identified as Mohammad Owais, Faisal Ayaz and Mohammad Shahrukh, while the unconscious person was identified as Mohammad.

Police sources said that the cause of the death will be established after autopsy report and in the light of forensic evidence.

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