ISLAMABAD: From January to December 2020, 2,297 cases of violence against women (VAW) were reported in 25 districts of Pakistan despite a challenge of under reporting due to COVID 19. Month to month analysis of the data shows that at the peak of the pandemic in July, cases of VAW were at highest. Following this, the number of cases dropped again but rose in September due to the resurgence of COVID.
The statistics make part of the report titled ‘Violence against women and girls in the time of COVID 19 Pandemic’ launched by Aurat Foundation in collaboration with SAP-PK under the project ‘Jazba- Democracy and Empowered Women or Jumhoriat Aur Baaikhtiar Aurat.’ The event was attended by a large number of women rights activists, Parliamentarians, academicians and media persons.
The research is based on review and analysis of data on the incidents of VAW collected from selected newspapers verified by local police stations in 25 selected Jazba districts, analysis of 14 case studies of VAW and analysis of 6 interviews from key government officials in Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women.
The key findings of the review and analysis of the data were presented by Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen. The findings show that among the total number of VAW incidents, 57 per cent were reported from Punjab, 27 per cent from Sindh, 8 per cent from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 6 per cent from Gilgit Baltistan, and 2 per cent from Balochistan.
Of all the provinces, Punjab reported the highest incident of murder, rape, suicide, acid burning, kidnapping, domestic violence, child and forced marriage, dowry and inheritance. Sindh had the most cases of honor killing. The victims of violence, survivors of violence ranged from two years to middle age and they belonged to all socio-economic backgrounds. Violence occurred both in home and public places.
The launch event also featured a theater performance on VAW and COVID 19 by Alina Chaudhry. Through solo performance, Alina highlighted the correlation between the situation of COVID 19 and women.
Shandana Gulzar Khan encouraged VAW survivors not to give up and fight for their rights. She asked the participants to share their ideas with the Parliamentarians and ensured her support and cooperation for the implementation of all solid and practical ideas that can contribute in the uplift of women.
Christopher Khung, Head of Cooperation, High Commission of Canada in Pakistan stated that research report has pointed out some important trends of out of court settlements cases that needs to be focused and addressed.
Director Programmes for AF Mumtaz Mughal paid tribute to the men and women who were the torchbearers of the women’s rights movement. Executive Director AF Naeem Ahmed Mirza stated that there is a global movement in the world for the elimination of violence against women and girls.