Saturday, December 5, 2009

Domestic violence has become a major issue these days, specially with young girls.
Just 2 weeks back, such a sad and and disturbing event took place when a 3 year old girl was thrown in a hot, boiling oven of haleem by the women living in the neighborhood. As per sources, the 3 year old girl, named sara went out at 2 in the evening to play in the street in front of her house. The lady living just next door quietly took her inside her place and threw her in the boiling cooking utensils, the girl died in no more than 5 minutes. As according to the parents of the dead, it was a sheer case of revenge, because just a week back saras father asked the little boy of the lady (who burnt the child) to not play cricket in the street and slapped him.

It was indeed very shocking how illiteracy has taken the life of an innocent for no reason. People should show some level of patience and tolerance on such occasions to hinder such sad and evil incidents from taking place.

-Warda Khan

Women and children are often in great danger in the place where they should be safest: within their families. For many, ‘home’ is where they face a regime of terror and violence at the hands of somebody close to them – somebody they should be able to trust. Those victimized suffer physically and psychologically. They are unable to make their own decisions, voice their own opinions or protect themselves and their children for fear of further repercussions. Their human rights are denied and their lives are stolen from them by the ever-present threat of violence. Perhaps the most crucial consequence of violence against women and girls is the denial of fundamental human rights to women and girls.

-Minahil Irfan

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence constitutes patterns of abusive behavior on part of either partner. It may or may not constitute an act of crime depending upon the country specific legislature. It is believed that alcohol and mental illness are the most common phenomena associated with it.
Domestic violence has various forms. It may not just be aggression or physical assault but also emotional assault which therefore makes this act hard to categorize report or even develop a legislature for. Any infringement upon the basic rights of a member of the household qualifies for domestic violence. Economic deprivation, domineering attitude and emotional blackmail are also very common forms of domestic violence. Spousal abuse while being the most commonly reported form of domestic violence probably makes up for very little proportion of the collective statistics on domestic violence because domestic violence encompasses all sorts of abuses in a household. It includes child abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence.

With the size and constitution of the household and social backdrop the forms of violence and the roles of the perpetrators change. One of the most common forms of domestic violence observed in Pakistan is the violence practiced by the in-laws of the women married into the household. Every year a number of cases are reported on the victimization of the daughter-in-law by mother-in-law. Similarly spousal abuses are also very common in Pakistan. The myth that it is the woman in the couple, who is the subject of violence, is now increasingly being proved wrong. It is actually not just Pakistan where the violence is reciprocated, in fact in developed nations it is more so.

The daunting task ahead for Pakistan in this regard is providing it a cover through laws and regulations. Considering only one third of the total domestic violence cases are reported in the world it is equally important to increase this figure also and encourage reporting incidents of any abuse in the household. Domestic violence is preventable public problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

By: Maheen Zahra Baloch

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

White Ribbon

Domestic violence against women in developing countries is budding as a serious concern for public health workers. Women are subjected to various forms of violence especially in less developed societies. World Health Organization (WHO) defines domestic violence as "the range of sexually, psychologically and physically coercive acts used against young and adolescent women by current or former male intimate partners

The traditional, behavioral and social norms that are often prevalent in an Islamic state as Pakistan, creates more difficulties for women. The prevailing systems of Purdah and Izzat are misused to push the social isolation of women and thus, women are more confined to their homes, they are not allowed to go out side, or even to seek any medical help or meet any relative.Even though they are aware about those restrictions, still they are unable to come forward to prevent themselves from domestic violence as either they are too young, weak, ill or they believe the hot-tempered behaviours of men as normal. Furthermore, in Pakistan majority of women consider the behaviours and actions of men in societies as inherited normal actions which really make them more vulnerable to any type of abuse in their home. Other prominent points for domestic violence in the Pakistani culture are societal pressures, imbalance of power between men and women which keeps women as followers of those rules and regulations of society and defiance to follow those rules leads to penalties like acid throwing, honour killings etc. In 2002 a research on domestic violence, showed that husband abuse was reported by 98 (46.9%) of the women interviewed, in which only 43 (58.1%) reported only to their sister. After reporting, only 54.8% had a temporary decrease in the violent behaviour from their husbands. Furthermore, women always fear paybacks, have concerns about the future of their children, and even more they have lack of any other moral support like friends. In case a woman wants to approach any social support, she has to face rejection and non supportive response from her own community and parents. Women who reside in rural or tribal areas are subjected to higher murder rates.

In Pakistan,Women and girls suffered human rights violations at the hands of the state and, in the absence of appropriate government action, in the community, including “honour” killings, forced marriages, rape and domestic violence. The Protection from Harassment at the Workplace Bill, approved by the cabinet in November, and the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, submitted to the Ministry of Women Development in August,passed by National Assembly.

On 13 July, a girl, aged 16, and two women, aged 18 and 20, were reportedly abducted and taken in a car bearing a government number plate to Babakot, Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province, where they were killed apparently for wanting to marry men of their choice. A post-mortem examination revealed that two of the young women had died of head injuries inflicted with a blunt weapon. The third body was not found. A Baloch senator defended the killing as “tribal custom”; locally influential figures reportedly hampered the police investigation.Girls were also handed over in marriage to settle disputes.

In these turbulent times in Pakistan, it was even more imperative to ensure women empowerment.If you have the upper hand in a relationship and tend to exploit your power, you are indeed involved in domestic violence. It’s not just about having a tough day at work and venting your frustration by slapping around your partner. If you make your wife beg for some extra cash to manage the household affairs, or belittle your husband over his over-indulgence in religious practices and try to dissuade him in one way or another; rest assured, you have joined ranks with perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Islam condemns domestic violence. Once a number of women came to the Prophet (S.A.W), to complain that their husbands had beaten them. The prophet announced that men who beat their wives are not good men. The Prophet (S.A.W) also said, “Do not beat the female servants of Allah"

What do we really know about domestic violence though? My mind jumps onto images of a woman huddled on the floor while a relentless hand comes down on her again and yet again. True enough, this is domestic violence at its core-and it’s ugliest. It’s not where it ends though. According to an online source, types of domestic abuse include physical, verbal (also called emotional, mental, or psychological abuse), sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse. Moreover, despite what most of us would ever believe, the women aren’t always the victims.

In a 2003 research paper printed in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, a survey of 216 women was conducted, and a staggering 96.76%(209/216) admitted to have been subjected to abuse, ranging from hitting and shouting to being threatened by a gun or knife. Even though the scope was limited-covering only the twin cities-it was appalling to say the least. More astounding: 108 (51.7%) reportedly did not respond in any way and merely suffered the violence and its attendant consequences in silence.

To uphold dignity-family’s and one’s own-the suffering continues behind barred doors. Divorce is unthinkable; release is impossible. You hide your fears and wipe the tears, you supplicate and despair in vain. It seems like things are getting better again, but inevitably, you’re pulled back in. These are the remnants of the glorified institution of matrimony.

Domestic violence is prevalent in Pakistan at an alarming rate. Women are the sufferers and are subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse in their home by partners, in-laws and in some circumstances by their brothers and parents. The factors associated with domestic violence in Pakistan are low-economical status of women, lack of awareness about women rights, lack of education, falsified beliefs, imbalanced empowerment issues between males and females, male dominant social structure and lack of support from the government. Integrated supportive services, legal intervention and redress should be made available in situations of domestic violence. Support and help for women to rebuild and recover their lives after violence, should be a part of the intervention strategy, including counseling, relocation, credit support and employment. In order to prevent women from domestic violence and provide them medical as well as judicial and legal support, new plans and interventional maps should be made in the societies in collaboration with health team members, religious and societal leaders, NGOs, police department and people from other similar groups. This strategy implementation should be enforced.

Zainab Sohail.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Domestic Violence Bill: Logical or Illogical?

It is difficult to understand the logic behind the Council of Islamic Ideology’s criticism of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, recently passed by the National Assembly. Expressing its reservations, the CII referred to the bill as ‘ambiguous’ and ‘containing few reforms’. It warned that in its current form, it would fan family feuds, push up the divorce rate and allow the police to violate what the council referred to as the ’sanctity of the home’. In fact, the bill against domestic violence is one of the more significant steps taken recently by the country’s legislators.

The abuse of women and children, particularly in the domestic sphere, is endemic in Pakistan. In most cases such transgressions — even those that merit being treated as assault under the Pakistan Penal Code — go unreported as they are considered a private matter. The domestic violence bill brings rights abuse in the home into the domain of the justice system, thereby promoting societal consensus against forms of violence that could otherwise be considered acceptable. Domestic violence is rampant partly because the lack of legislation on the issue was understood as a refusal by the law to recognise such abuse as a crime.
The CII also criticised the bill on the grounds of gender-discrimination, saying that it ignored the possibility of old or weak men suffering. In fact, the bill covers a variety of situations by defining a ‘domestic relationship’ as inclusive of ties through kinship, adoption, joint family, employment and domestic help. ‘Vulnerable’ persons are defined as those at risk because of ‘old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reasons’.
The definition also includes domestic help. This clearly extends the protection of the law to anybody in a domestic situation, regardless of age or gender. Indeed, the protection granted to domestic staff is significant, given that economic dependence often forces such people to silently witness the trampling of their rights.
It is true that no piece of legislation is perfect; the body of a country’s law represents, in fact, a continuous process to identify issues and create safeguards. Yet the grounds on which the CII has based its reservations represent the regressive and parochial thinking that has kept this country mired in the dark ages. It can be said that those who subscribe to this attitude condone domestic violence and believe that the issue should remain unaddressed. The CII could spend its time more usefully by projecting moves meant to prevent rights abuse and launching its own initiatives in this regard.
*The Domestic Violence Act in India is always under scrutiny for that fact that it open the flood gates for cases even on minor issues, it also provides protection for unmarried couples ( the female partner) and also women in live-in relation with men. A law is always misused by some or the other class of people, but that does not qualify that this should lead to a solution of lawlessness for that aspect.
Domestic Violence is a major issue in the two countries, legal efforts should be made to eradicate it. If people think this law can be misused then they must make viable committees to check the credibility of cases filed under it.

The reach of the law should reach the most affected strata of women, then only it will solve its purpose of its existence.
By Soumya Saxena

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rights of Women in a Pakistani society

'Women's rights in Pakistan' is a big question often raised in the West. It is believed that women has no rights or privileges in the male dominated society of Pakistan.

Before discussing whether women have rights in Pakistani society or not, first understand Pakistani society.

Pakistan is an Islamic state, where people, not only take pride in strictly adhering to the Islamic values but are ready to sacrifice their loved belongings for the glory and sanctity of Islam. Islam has accorded a highly venerated social position to women. Islam acknowledges the rights and privileges of the women in society. Likewise, Islam does not impose any restrictions that may hamper the social growth and development of the woman. A woman is equally important member of society. The woman plays a vital role in building the society on healthier and stronger foundations.

The women in Pakistan have been constantly complaining of having being isolated from the mainstream of society. Women feel disillusioned on being maltreated by the male-oriented set up in Pakistan. They strongly claim that if they are given a chance, they can contribute more positively towards the development of all social aspects.

However the Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women. Their development in society is hindered due to many factors. Particularly the rural woman has to sustain, sometimes, unbearable dominance by the other sections of society.

Numerically the women in Pakistan are almost equal to men. They are equal in potential as the men. The Pakistani women live in the most diversified location of the tribal, feudal or urban environments. She can be a highly qualified and self-confident professional or a diffident peasant toiling along with her men-folk.

Women in Pakistan observe 'Pardha' while coming out of domestic environs or mixing up with other sections of society. 'Pardha,' or veil, is meant to segregate the women-folk from the male section of the society. The women are not prohibited from working but at the same time are supposed to observe strictly the rules of morality.

Due to pardha system, most of women (particularly of low education) have to take up work at home. They involve themselves in knitting, dressmaking, embroidery, etc.

In the areas like NWFP and Balochistan, life is governed and regulated by strict beliefs and behavioral patterns. A woman has no say in any aspect of her life, including her marriage. In the populated provinces of Sindh and Punjab, a woman may keep her connections with her family after marriage. She expect support from her brothers and father in case of separation and divorce from her husband. In Punjab and Sindh, women are seen working in the fields with their men-folk collecting fuels and in some cases working on the construction sites shifting material from one place to another.

Most of women in rural areas have to bear double burden of domestic and outside work. They are the first to rise and last to bed. They lit the fire to prepare breakfast, wash the utensils and cleans the house before setting out on their outside work. When every member has ridden the bed after completing day's work, they are engaged in working.

Although the conditions of women in urban areas are better than those of the rural women. Yet the old traditions and religious restraints have hindered the independent and free movement of the women.

Pakistan is the first country in the Muslim world that has elected a woman as its prime minister twice.
- Maham Masood

Society and Shame

Hey all i would love to get some feedback from you on the current level of recognition and acceptance of domestic violence in our society.
Have things changed?
How do we change societys attitude to domestic violence?
Why is there still such stigma and judgement of those in need?
Its still a dirty word.. i hate that.... i hate cowards and i dont understand HOW domestic violence is not tackled head on in government, discussed openly with no shame.
-Maham Masood & Zainab Sohail