While the rape of a five-year-old girl in Lahore has sent shock waves, about 7516 cases of violence against women were reported in 2012 in Pakistan, with honour killing and suicides forming the majority of cases, apart from 822 cases of rape.
The most known case was that of Malala Yousafzai who survived shots in her head and neck and lived to tell the tale.
However, many others were not as lucky. Women from minorities and ethnic groups suffered crimes,documented by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
A qualitative review by Aurat Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has included these figures in an annual report titled “Beyond Denial”.
It has data from the four provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA); and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), for 2012. About 63 per cent of the cases were reported from Punjab.
Crimes like murder, domestic violence, and acid throwing increased between 2010-2012 and the cumulative number of women and girls who died between 2008-2012 due to murder, honour killing and suicide, among others, is 13,583, the report said.
For 2012, the crime numbers are lower than the previous year but in the absence of authentic verifiable figures it is hard to tell if that’s an improvement. In 2011, 8,539 cases were reported while for 2010 it was 8,000 cases.
In the absence of official data, news reports on violence from 26 publications formed the basis of this report.
Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen, the author of the report, said this was the fifth report by Aurat Foundation and as in the past, was based on an analysis of news clippings and secondary data since the government did not collect and maintain records or produce reports.
There is a Gender Crimes Cell in the police department in Islamabad but official data and follow up of cases are missing.
Dr. Perveen said there is continuing denial about crimes against women and the general attitude is that it doesn’t happen here. Crimes like incest are not even registered.
Another area of denial is the violence linked to dowry demands; as yet there is no ban on dowry. She said it is important to end the culture of denial and shame if crimes against women have to be pursued seriously.
However, she added, the passage of seven pro-women laws between 2004 and 2011 by Parliament and Senate was a great achievement.
So was the reconstitution of the National Commission on Status of Women. Sindh has the second highest incidence of reported cases of violence against women with 22 per cent of the total cases. Islamabad reported 281 cases which is a rather high figure for its area and size of population, the report added.
The report said the major categories of cases were under murder, kidnapping, and rape/gang rape. Despite a law on acid attacks, many cases were reported from Lahore, Okara, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore districts.
What is disturbing is that first information reports (FIR)s were registered only in 55 per cent of the reported cases ie 4135, while in 977 cases no FIRs were registered and there was no information about the FIR status of the remaining 2404 or 34 per cent of cases. In over 68 per cent of the cases, there is no information on age of either the victim or the survivor; however, in18 per cent of the available cases, total victims were found to be below 18.
The report pointed out that crimes were occurring in areas with a high literacy rate like Rawalpindi, Lahore, Okara, Sargodha, and Faisalabad. The status of investigation in many cases is not known .