Human rights, all time low in Pakistan; violence against women at its peak

Islamabad, Pakistan: Violence against women is increasing in Pakistan every passing day. The rape cases, domestic violence, kidnapping and what not is a daily news in the country.

In what could be termed as a testimony to the rapidly declining situation for women in Pakistan, a young woman was on May 27 raped by the railway staff members on a moving train.

And while the government has tried to portray itself as a champion of women’s rights, the bare truth of Pakistan remains that successive governments’ apathetic attitude toward women’s rights has encouraged a culture where anti-women crimes are committed with impunity.

Thousands of women are murdered, kidnapped, and assaulted each year. The conviction rates are extremely low. Even the government reports point towards a grim situation.

According to a Ministry of Human Rights report,14,456 women were assaulted in Pakistan in the last four years. 4,326 cases of rapewere reported in the year 2018 followed by 4,377 rape cases in 2019, 3,887cases in 2020, and 1,866 cases in 2021.

However, even more disturbing is the fact that only 4 per cent of these rape cases have resulted in a conviction.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report 2020 ranked Pakistan at the top of the list of 75 countries where people have an anti-women bias. During the year 2021, Pakistan ranked 153rd out of 156 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report, which considers female political empowerment, economic participation, educational attainment and health.

Minority communities too continue to live in fear. The attacks against them are widespread and have grown with time.

The latest in the series of targeted attacks was on two Sikh shopkeepers, Sardar Saljeet Singh and Ranjeet Singh who were shot and killed on May 15 on spot by Islamic fundamentalists at their spice shops in Bata Tal bazaar of Sarband in Peshawar.

Over the years, the population of minorities has reduced significantly. The minorities are systematically marginalized and discriminated against by the state.

As per a report titled, Unequal Citizens: Ending Systemic Discrimination against Minorities, compiled by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) with support from the European Union (EU) the employment prospects of non-Muslims in Pakistan are bleak.

Nearly half of the posts reserved for religious minorities in government jobs remain vacant and even with the posts that are filled, 80 per cent of non-Muslims are employed as sanitation workers, even for which they are paid less.

Non-Muslim sanitation workers are made to work under hazardous conditions without safety equipment and very little compensation in case of accident or death.

In Sindh, forced conversions have become even more rampant than it was. Marriage-conversion of minor Hindu, Sikh, and Christian girls, always under duress, has become an increasingly common phenomenon.

Freedom of speech is not a guaranteed right in Pakistan. While a large section of media self-censors itself, others’ voices are muzzled with brute high-handedness.

Reporters Without Borders showed that Pakistan slid from 145th position last year to 157th this year on the World Press Freedom Index.

Different global bodies have also highlighted that a growing number of cases against children are also being reported from Pakistan.

A Lahore-based NGO “Sahil” stated that minors are frequent targets of assault in Punjab.
It revealed that 3,852 children were made targets of molestation and sexual assault across Punjab during 2021 and at least 40 of the victims were murdered afterward.

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