Saturday April 13, 2024

NCHR concerned over rising number of domestic violence incidents

By Myra Imran
February 06, 2023

Islamabad : National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) held a stakeholder consultation to discuss the continuous increase in the reported incidents of domestic violence and possible collaborations among key stakeholders for advocacy, policy, and legal interventions.

The participants expressed concern that only in 2021, 14,189 cases of gender-based violence were registered in Pakistan. The meeting was chaired by the Chairperson, of NCHR, Rabiya Javeri Agha, and was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, the United Nations, and international organisations.

The participants expressed concern regarding the increased number of domestic violence cases and stressed organised efforts to address the issue at all levels. In a briefing around the issue, the participants were told that domestic violence (a proportion of the total violence against women) is defined as any act committed within the family by a family member, or behaviour that results in physical harm or psychological injury to an intimate partner or another member of the family. Studies show that 40 per cent of women experienced physical or emotional violence in their lifetime. Divorced, widowed, and separated women suffered more violence than married women. Domestic violence is not confined to matrimonial relationships.

The last Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Pakistan revealed that 39 per cent of women aged 15-49, who had never been married, reported being subjected to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) at some time. Regarding legal framework, participants were briefed that three laws including the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016, Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Sindh, 2013, and Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Balochistan, 2014 are in place whereas Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2020 is pending.

Speaking on this occasion, Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha shared that the rules for provincial laws are still pending. “In Sindh, it took 6 years for the first conviction under Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act Sindh, 2013.”

The chairperson said that basic challenges in controlling domestic violence are the societal acceptance of domestic violence, difficulties in registering FIRs, women’s lack of legal knowledge and fear of the judicial system, and lack of financial independence of survivors. “Besides that, the lack of domestic violence shelters and the low number of female police officers also play a role in discoursing women from taking a decision. She further said that on the occasion of the recently held Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan before the UN Human Rights Council, on January 30, many countries such as Sweden, Australia, Brazil, and Japan recommended Pakistan pass Domestic Violence Bill.

Talking about the initiatives taken by the Commission, the Chairperson said that NCHR has already developed a policy brief on domestic violence and has launched a helpline (1413) for the protection of women's marriage rights in Punjab. “In addition to that, the NCHR has a complaint redressal mechanism and continuously follows up on rules and implementation of provincial domestic violence Acts in Sindh and Balochistan.” She said th­at the Commission is bringing out a campaign on DV based on domestic and Islamic