ISLAMABAD : As part of a wider campaign against domestic violence, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), in collaboration with UN Women, launched a ‘Policy Brief on Domestic Violence’ on Tuesday.
The policy brief provides a detailed view of how domestic violence affects Pakistani citizens, particularly women. Furthermore, it analyses possible interventions that can be made against domestic violence, citing the establishment of federal domestic violence legislation as a crucial step in addressing this ‘urgent matter.’ The brief also examines the international commitments made by Pakistan and provides recommendations for legal and socio-economic actions that can be taken by the government to tackle the issue.
Speaking on this occasion, NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha said that following nationwide consultation and meetings with various stakeholders from civil society and state institutions, the NCHR took note of the alarming rise in domestic violence cases in the country and lack of protection for women who find themselves in an increasingly precarious position as Pakistan reels from COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating floods and now rising inflation, all which disproportionally affect women far more than their male counterparts.
The Chairperson said besides working on a Policy Brief, the Commission 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 follow up on rules and implementation of provincial domestic violence Acts in Sindh and Balochistan.”
The information gathered by the Policy Brief research team shows that over 90 per cent of Pakistani women face domestic violence in their lifetime (HRCP Factsheet on Domestic Violence During COVID-19 Lockdown) and there were 10,000 to 11,000 reported cases of violence against women (Aurat Foundation, SSDO and NADRA).
Regarding legal framework, the brief says that three laws including 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 at Federal level is pending.
The brief recommends enactment of legislation against domestic violence at federal level, provision of support and services of the victims of domestic violence, awareness raising and education around the issue, sensitization and capacity building of stakeholders especially judiciary and law enforcement agencies, engagement of different segments of the society especially men in campaigns against domestic violence and availability of legal aid system at wider level.
In her opening remarks, Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said that according to research 90 per cent of women in Pakistan face one or the other form of domestic violence but 50 per cent of them do not report that. “An unfortunately, all this data is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said adding that domestic violence is more about cultural and social norms. “Law and policy matter but it largely depends on how the society regards its vulnerable.” She appreciated the #GharKiBaatNahi for the campaign and said that it is an appropriate hashtag which applies to every social class and every country in the world.”
In her keynote address, Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri said domestic violence is never a topic of fashion for her but it is a reality and issue of many women in Pakistan. Said that she can imagine the pain of a domestic violence survivor as she herself is one of them. “Domestic violence is not the issue of a home or a family, it is about society and the nation.”
She said that everyone shall read the decision of Shariat Court which says that domestic violence is not allowed in Islam. “We need to disseminate this as much as possible. The wrong perception that Islam allows violence against women is widely disseminated. We need to make people aware of the real message of Islam.”
UN Women, Deputy Country Representative UN Women Jacqui Ketunuti appreciated the effort of NCHR and stressed the need for collaborative effort to address the issue of domestic Violence.
In his closing address, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Jutice Dr. Syed Muhammad Anwer said there is no place for domestic violence in Islam. He said that eliminating the menace of domestic violence is a continuous and steady process. “In a diverse society, many issues are overlapping and cultural is confused with religion. Same is with the issue of domestic violence. People were convinced that domestic violence has something to do with Islam, On the contrary it is nothing to do with Islam. He quoted Quran and gave examples from the life of Holy Prophet PBUH when he forbade all kind of domestic violence.