The 2016 annual report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recorded gang rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, amputations, burnings and said almost 800 women killed themselves or attempted suicide. The report mentions that more than a thousand victims of honour crimes were recorded last year, including a woman who was strangled and “cut up” by her brothers and two sisters shot for their “bad character”.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report says that prosecution rates for domestic violence and sexual offences were low, with women frequently too afraid to report the crimes or being intimidated into withdrawing complaints. It recorded more than 900 rapes and sexual assaults in 2015, 279 instances of domestic violence, 143 of burning, 833 kidnappings and 777 suicides and attempted suicides. The figures are believed to be far below the real figures as violence against women in Pakistan continued unabated.
The HRCP has also reported 987 honour crimes in 2015, with 1,096 female victims and 88 male victims, including an unknown number of children. Women are subject to numerous acid attacks too. This form of violence involves intentionally spraying, throwing or pouring acid onto the victims’ faces and bodies, often intending to permanently disfigure and cause extreme physical and mental suffering to victims In an incident that really exposes the minimal degree of protection of women by the state authorities, one acid attack was allegedly carried out by a police constable in Karachi, causing his 19-year-old victim to lose an eye.
A combination of factors has contributed to the culture of violence against women and impunity for the perpetrators. One is the perpetual living in denial and a persistent refusal to acknowledge as a society that we have a problem of pervasive violence against women that needs to be addressed urgently. As women have struggled to gain greater say in decisions that affect their lives—from getting education to finding gainful employment and speaking their mind about marriage or choice of their spouse—they seem to have invited ever greater degree and incidence of violence. It is unfortunate that such violence has not been adequately condemned by prominent members of society and political leaders. The conditions that enable the perpetrators to avoid paying for their crime have also directly contributed to the growth of violence.
The condition of women in Pakistani is a pitiable one. They face discrimination at all levels and are subject to varying forms of violence. Their situation is further aggravated by the dogmatic practices of Pakistani patriarchy, that often have religious sanctions. The Pakistani state machinery, directly or indirectly pampers the perpetrators of violence against women, leading to further atrocities.