Gender-based violence

Report exposes alarming frequency of incidents of violence against women.

The recently published Punjab Gender Parity Report 2022 exposes the alarming frequency of incidents of violence against women. According to data gathered from the Office of the Inspector General of Punjab Police, there has been a slight decrease in the number of reported cases. However, this reduction is likely attributed to a decrease in the reporting of incidents rather than a genuine decline in the occurrence of crimes. The report highlights incidents of violence against women in Punjab alone. But, the rest of the regions in the country are also contending with similar cases of violence against women.

According to the report, in the year 2022, as many as 34,854 cases of violence against women were reported in Punjab, with kidnapping being the most common crime. Also, 1,026 women were murdered during the year, in what substantiates Pakistan’s labeling is one of the top countries of the world most dangerous of women. Of the women murdered, 395 lost their lives in incidents of domestic violence, 176 in the name of honour and 453 due to other motives.

The escalating violence against women is rooted in inadequate law enforcement, which is further compounded by a patriarchal and conservative culture that dictates how women are supposed to behave in our society. More often than not, victims of violence and sexual abuse are themselves blamed for their sufferings instead of the perpetrators being held accountable. In cases of domestic violence, relatives and neighbours often turn a blind eye to women’s ordeal, citing it as a personal matter for the couple. This apathetic and victim-blaming attitude provides perpetrators with the leeway to continue abusing and harassing women. This situation is exacerbated by the overall lack of safe spaces for women and the inadequate implementation of legislation.

Across the country, law enforcement and judicial officials frequently force women into abusive and unsafe situations due to an inherent bias against them. Of all gender-based violence cases reported in Punjab, only 4% resulted in convictions, while 96% ended in acquittals. Although there are no specific figures to determine the rate of conviction and acquittals in other provinces of Pakistan, it is reasonable to assume that the acquittal rate is likely higher. The recent report should serve as a wake-up call for all relevant authorities to implement existing laws and provide assistance and safety to victims and individuals facing potential risks of violence or abuse.

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