Over 10,000 Cases Of Violence Against Women Reported In Sindh This Year

The cases of violence against women seem to increase day by day in Pakistan and the recent data is proof of it. According to numbers by Women Protection Cell, the institution has received 10,000 complaints by women over harassment and violence in Sindh since the start of 2021. Meanwhile, in Punjab the Women Helpline has received 4,649 complaints in the first half of the current year. And in KPK, the Bolo Women Helpline has not shown any notable differences from the previous years as it has gotten 70 complaints this year so far, while the number was 105 in 2018, 89 in 2019 and 165 in 2020.
On the contrary, the numbers from Ministry of Human Rights show that total complaints made to the National Toll-Free Helpline (1099) are relatively low. As per MoHR data, the national helpline has received 1,655 complaints in 2021 so far, while the number of complaints in 2018 stood at 6,238, and in 2020 it was 1,718. “The cases of violence against women across Pakistan has fallen by 70% in past three years,” the ministry claimed. So, what is the reason behind this difference between the numbers?
Commenting on the difference, an official, Kashif said: “People across Pakistan lack awareness and are not familiar with this National Helpline. Whereas, the provincial helplines are specifically oriented for women and are highly active with a lot more budget and awareness campaigns.”
Meanwhile, another top official from MoHR said that “the reported cases related to women rights violations were not even half of the actual cases that were happening in Pakistan.”
The issue of violence and harassment against women have come into limelight after the incident at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. On August 14, around 400 men assaulted a TikToker Ayesha Akram, who was there to meet her fans. The incident happened as the country was in shock over the brutal murder and rape of Noor Muqaddam in Islamabad.
On August 25, five cases of rape were reported in Lahore in 24 hours. According to a report “11 rape incidents are reported in Pakistan every day with 22,000 rape cases reported to police across the country in last six years.”
Observers issue a reminder that these are the cases which have been reported, and that a large number of such incidents are not reported to the police due to “honour”, family customs and social pressure. Activists point out that the most contentious aspect of violence against women is the victim blaming.
Observers note that in almost every case the society’s narrative moves towards finding something to blame on the real victim. These include raising questions regarding her clothes or asking why she was there in the first place. Why she was alone? Who asked her to go there in such rush? These are some of the questions asked in the long list, regardless of whether the crime is committed in rural areas or urban centres.
Experts say, the solution lies in addressing government policies and family structure. Activists urge the government to ensure the safety of victims, given that in many cases the rape suspect belongs to a strong background and ultimately the victim and her family are forced to retract the case.
One recent example of this is Asma Rani murder case in KP. The family of Asma Rani has decided to “pardon” the killer of their daughter. Legal experts maintain there are high chances that the family was pressurized or forced to compromise.
Experts also say the family structure needs an overhaul, where, in most cases, the daughter is less prioritised, the daughter-in-law is left at the hands of her in-laws, the wife is asked to compromise and force to keep silent for family honor.