HRCP report rings alarm over plight of women in Pakistan

·4-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 6 (ANI): The annual report of State of Human Rights in Pakistan released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for the year 2020 has set alarm bells ringing over the plight of women in the country.

The HRCP report has once again painted a concerning picture of the women's rights situation in the country. It highlights an array of issues impacting the marginalised communities in Pakistan; there has been a special emphasis on the plight of women, with gender discrimination prevalent across the country, reported Pakistan Today.

The gender disparity is witnessed even in subcategories of crimes, including, for instance, persecution of religious minorities, with issues such as forced conversions being witnessed. Other human rights abuses to target women include child marriage and honour killings, which even though impact men as well, are largely centered on controlling and subjugating women according to experts.

"We must change our mindset on what the fate of young women should be in our society," said Kishwar Enam, a pediatrician and member of Kasur Hamara Hai, a child welfare initiative. "Instead of committing them to marriages, let's send them to school so they can grow up to be healthy, successful and independent individuals; this will help the generations they raise to prosper," she added.

The HRCP has highlighted other forms of violence against women, which include sexual assault and domestic violence prevalent across the country.

While the HRCP report highlights certain issues in accordance with provincial division, marginalisation of women was witnessed across Pakistan even if certain stats varied in different parts of the country, reported Pakistan Today.

The HRCP report reiterated Pakistan's concerning standing on the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, where the country is placed third from bottom, i.e. 151 out of 153 countries.

The report also reiterated that the HRCP has registered an increase in domestic violence and even digital versions of such cases, which according to the report underlines "the increased vulnerability of women during the [COVID-19] pandemic."

"Many families realize too late that a divorced daughter is better than a dead daughter," exclaimed Khadija Siddiqi, a women's rights activist and gender-based violence survivor.

In the year 2020, the HRCP noted 430 cases of honour killings, which saw 363 women and 148 men being killed. The report highlights that sexual violence against women continued with impunity across the country.

It specifically highlighted the case of the gang rape on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway in September 2020, when a woman was sexually assaulted in front of her children. The case sparked shockwaves across the country.

"The shock and outrage compounded when the capital city police officer in Lahore callously suggested that she should have 'chosen her route more carefully,'" noted the HRCP report, highlighting the prevalence of victim-blaming, which Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has also been accused of in recent months.

Twice in the year 2021, PM Khan has asserted that vulgarity or women wearing "few clothes" is linked to rape cases in Pakistan.

"[Imran Khan is] a person who validates rape and holds the victim responsible. Pakistan needs to be rid of this mindset of rape apologists," said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

Other forms of violence against women were also witnessed during 2020, with targeted killings also reporting a rise in the year. The report highlights a case in Turbat, where three gunmen killed a woman at her place and even injured her four-year-old daughter, in what was reported to be an armed robbery.

Reports further surfaced that the gunmen had been tasked by a local leader who runs a 'death squad' in the region, highlighting not just the vulnerability of women to violence, but also how women in Balochistan are even more impacted given the volatility of the province, reported Pakistan Today.

Among other matters, the HRCP also highlighted that the chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women is yet to be hired, with the position being vacant since November 2019, reported Pakistan Today.

The HRCP report cites that last year Pakistan completed the review of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in line with its fifth periodic report.

The report handed over in February this year, at CEDAW's 75th session, put forth its wide-ranging recommendation that underlined the need for national machinery dedicated to gender equality and upholding women's rights. (ANI)

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