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Women in Pakistan: Forever the victims of violence and abuse?

According to statistical data, about 70-80% of women in Pakistan have faced some form of abuse. Due to all the problems faced by women in Pakistan, the Global Gender Gap Index ranks Pakistan as the 3rd worst country in the world based on political empowerment, economic participation, educational attainment, health, and survival.

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Women in Pakistan face a lot of problems. From facing harassment at work to being brutally murdered, Pakistani women are usually the target of abuse.

According to a Human Rights Watch estimate, 70-90% of women in Pakistan suffered some form of abuse. In 2005, a study interviewed 176 married men about their opinions on domestic violence in Karachi. 46% said men have the right to beat their wives, while 65% saw their own mothers as victims of physical violence.

Due to the mindset, and misinterpretation of religion, the levels of violence against women are very high. Husbands or in-laws are usually the perpetrators of violence. In 2003, 216 married women participated in a study conducted in Islamabad. Out of those women, 96.8% experienced some form of domestic abuse.

80% of reported perpetrators are husbands and 17% by mothers or stepmothers.

Physical violence against women is not the only form of abuse. Women in Pakistan also face marital rape. Marital rape is sexual intercourse without the spouse’s consent. Marital rape is normalized in Pakistan as men are considered to be the sole owners and maintainers of their wives.

Read more: Violence against women: Who is responsible?

A 1999 report on 70 men aged 24-45 showed 54 to admit to having non-consensual relations with their wives.  A 2015 study on Intimate Partner Violence in Pakistan shows individual reports of sexual violence as high as 77%, physical 50%, and psychological at 90% in women.

A large portion of women in Pakistan has no control over their bodies. Becoming a victim of marital rape often leads to unintended pregnancies. There were 2.4 million unintended pregnancies in 2002. 900,000 resulted in induced abortions. Due to a lack of safe methods of abortions, 200, 000 women were hospitalized for complications, and out of every 10 women, 1 woman died.

There is also a lack of awareness regarding family planning in Pakistan as it is usually considered taboo. According to a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), contraceptives use by married women remains stagnant since 2012, at a very low figure of 26%. Usually, the men take the decision of not using family planning methods.

Read more: The reality of family planning in Pakistan

Violence against women in the public sphere

Women in Pakistan face harassment and abuse in public as well. According to Madadgar Helpline, 93% of women in Pakistan experienced sexual violence in public places. 56% of the calls to them are from women while 13% are from men.

Since 2015, Pakistan has reported 22000 cases of rape, with an average of 11 cases reported per day. The conviction rate is 0.3%.

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Women in Pakistan also face severe workplace harassment. As per a Dawn survey of 300 women on workplace harassment, colleagues and seniors told 35% of the women to remain silent. Furthermore, male teachers blackmail medical students over grades and promotions if they reject sexual advances.

Moreover, the cases of online harassment are increasing day by day in the digital era. Women are blackmailed through explicit photoshopped images. The FIA reported 8500 complaints by women in 2018/19. However, only 19.5% were investigated.

Read more: PM suspends FIA officers over negligence in harassment case!

Due to all the problems faced by women in Pakistan, the Global Gender Gap Index ranks Pakistan as the 3rd worst country in the world based on political empowerment, economic participation, educational attainment, health, and survival. This is below Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 

 

 

 

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