BY ASIM SHAHZAD
LAHORE: In six months of this year, 6754 women were kidnapped, 1890 raped and 3721 cases of violence against women were registered in Punjab while 752 cases of child abuse were also registered in the province.
These statistics were shared in Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) Launched District Wise Analysis of State of Violence against Women and Children in Punjab and Islamabad during Jan-June 2021.
Violence against women and children has become rampant in Punjab but cases reported in the media are much less than that reported and registered officially. As many as 1890 women became victims of rape in official statistics in Punjab but only 396 cases got attention in media.
In Islamabad, the cases registered about the rape of women remained 34 while 27 cases out of these were highlighted in media.
Violence against women in Punjab is high with 3721 registered cases in the first half of the year 2021 through a very less number around 938 cases reported in mainstream media.
Cases of the kidnapping of women 6754 covered almost half of the statistics of violence against women and children registered in Punjab. The mainstream media could only report around 635 cases.
163 registered in Islamabad about the kidnapping of women contrary to only a small number of 26 cases reported in media. 752 cases were registered in Punjab province against child abuse. In Islamabad, 38 cases of child abuse were officially registered.
Lahore is the hotspot district in Punjab and has the highest number of cases of rape, violence against women, kidnapping, domestic violence, and child abuse followed by Faisalabad and Gujranwala.
Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) launched the report Tracking Numbers: State of violence against women and children in Punjab and Islamabad during the first half of 2021.
As per the officials, this is the first of its kind report which gave a district-wise analysis of the situation identifying the hotspots. The report deliberates on the plight of women and children whilst highlighting the everyday risks of safety, security, and rights violations being faced by them these days.
The report is based on information collected through two different methods, i.e., tracking of reported cases from mainstream English and Urdu Medium print media and through access to official registered cases by using Right to Information (RTI) laws. For a collection of information under this research report, a set of eight (8) indicators were developed; which were relatively easy to update periodically.
Out of these eight indicators, three (3) indicators such as Child Abuse, Child Labour and Child Marriages relate to children while five (5) indicators such as Domestic Violence, Violence against Women, Harassment of Women at Workplace, Rape of Women and Kidnapping of Women, relate to women. As per the analysis of the statistics, the records of cases reported in the media are much less than those reported and registered in the official data.
The report found that cases of kidnapping of women (6754) covered almost half of the statistics of violence against women and children registered in Punjab. The mainstream tracked media could only report around 635 cases of kidnapping of women in the same period.
The report also found that violence against women in Punjab is alarmingly high, with 3721 registered cases in the first half of year 2021 though very less number around 938 cases reported in mainstream media.
Similar to the province of Punjab, the highest number of cases of kidnapping of women (163) registered in Islamabad contrary to only a small number of 26 cases reported in media though Islamabad is one of the centers of mainstream print and electronic media.
During the same period, there were also registered 37 cases of violence against women in Islamabad whereas 27 cases out of these were covered by media. In the same period, 1890 women became victims of rape in official statistics in Punjab but only 396 cases can get attention in media.
In Islamabad, the cases registered about women rape remained 34 while 27 cases out of these were highlighted in media. Domestic violence is a common phenomenon however always underreported in Pakistan mainly because women are often pressurized by their families, social circles and friends have to bear the injustice and remain silent regarding any domestic issues including violence against them.
Nevertheless, the statistics revealed that 325 cases of domestic violence were registered in the first half of the year 2021 in Punjab however only 158 have been reported by the media.
In Islamabad, there were registered a total of 15 cases of domestic violence, while only 9 cases were reported in the media. The statistics about violence against children are not different. As per the official record, 752 cases were registered in Punjab province against child abuse, while 583 of such cases were also highlighted in the media. In Islamabad, 38 cases of child abuse were officially registered and 28 of them got media attention. Despite the fact age at marriage is 16 years in the province of Punjab contrary to the often recognized best practice of age at 18 years internationally, however, the number of cases registered against child marriages was 17 in Punjab.
Regardless of the limitations of data collection from limited newspapers, SSDO found that violence against women and children has become rampant in Punjab and the issue even could not get the proper space in media reports.
The report through authentic information obtained from official records and careful media tracking revealed a very alarming situation about the state of human rights violations of women and children in Punjab and ICT.
The smaller number of cases reported in the media than that of the official data suggests that the media could not even report most of the cases and/or media do not have enough coverage of cases under trial regarding violence against women and children.
The report also stresses the need of all stakeholders including government, politicians, law enforcement agencies, relevant departments, judiciary, media, and civil society to come forward, develop joint action to spread awareness, implement laws to curb violence against women and children in Pakistan.