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At a time when awareness of women’s rights has been growing worldwide, it is paradoxical that violence against women should be on the rise in countries like Pakistan. Studies by several organizations indicate a 13% increase in violence against women in Pakistan in the year 2009. In the cities of Pakistan, women’s relatively rapid economic advancement is driving a lot of local women’s rights activism. At the same time, women's rights in rural areas are on a relentless downslide with heinous woman-hating practices like forced marriages, rape, vigilante justice, acid attacks, mutilations and many such acts performed with impunity due to the Hudood Ordinance and “honor” killings which are supported locally. In this scenario, the majority of Pakistani women suffer in silence, with hardly a voice raised in protest. Pakistani Women's Human Rights Organization (PWHRO) is an organization devoted to the task of fighting for Human Rights for the women of Pakistan within the country. We also aim to bring the plight of Pakistani women under the censure of the world's Human Rights Organizations and fight for the removal of unbelievable cruel practices and laws like the Shariah Law, already in effect in several areas in Pakistan.
 
  

17 year old girl being flogged in Swat valley Pakistan.
 
In June 2003 the Provincial Assembly of Pakistan passed a bill introducing Sharia law in the region which borders Afghanistan. The Law declares that the Sharia, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, to be the supreme law of the region. In April 2009 President Zardari of Pakistan signed a bill introducing the Islamic Sharia law into the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley. In Sharia, there are categories of offenses which indicate 'Hadd punishments'. They either fall under a judge's discretion, or are resolved through a tit-for-tat measure. There are five Hadd crimes: unlawful sexual intercourse, false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking), theft, and highway robbery. Punishments for Hadd offenses are flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution.
Sharia dictates that a woman is not to leave the house without permission from her husband or father. Sharia paves the way for vigilante justice against women in the form of honor killings, mutilations and murders committed in retaliation for bringing dishonor on one's family, whether real or imaginary.
 
     
  
Karo-kari is part of the cultural tradition in Pakistan and means "black male" (Karo) and "black female (Kari), standing for adulterer and adulteress. Once labeled as a Kari, male family members get the self-authorized justification to kill her and the co-accused Karo, 'to restore family honor'. In Pakistan’s rural areas, male tribal councils (Jirgas) decide the fate of women who bring dishonor to their family. This centuries old custom for dealing with women is protected by powerful feudal landlords and tribal elders. In 2009, 472 cases of honour killings were reported - 91 in Punjab; 220 in Sindh; 32 in NWFP; 127 in Balochistan; 2 in Islamabad. Tragically, only in the rarest cases are the perpetrators brought to justice. Undocumented and unreported killings in the name of honour are often bolstered by governmental indifference, discriminatory laws and negligence on the part of Pakistan’s police force and judiciary.
 
In 2009, 472 cases of honour killings were reported. The count doesn't include mutilations and other such punishments.
     
     
  
Families of rape victims don't report the crime to the police to avoid further shame and disgrace.
 
Under the ordinance, women who fail to prove rape claims are charged with committing adultery, a criminal offense. The laws seem to protect rapists and punish the victims. Most women do not report the rape because they don’t expect to get justice and she is usually termed the culprit because a sexual act has been performed. The law has reportedly sent more than 20,000 mostly innocent women to prison. "The violence against women is not a new phenomenon, but incidents of gang-rape have suddenly increased in Pakistan and mostly, those who commit gang-rapes or kill women in the name of honor are influential tribesmen or feudal, therefore, they escape punishment," said Naeem Mirza, a spokesman for Pakistan's Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization. Religious groups in Pakistan strongly oppose any changes to the law, saying it protects core Islamic values.
A third-year Christian nursing student in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi was found unconscious with a head injury near Doctors’ Backyard Mess after a Medico-Legal Officer (MLO), Dr Jabbar Memon and five others allegedly raped her and threw her down from the fourth floor. The gang-rape has outraged rights groups, who say the increase in violence against women reflects the demeaning status of women in the country who are victims of a centuries-old tribal justice system.
 
 
  
Vicious incidents of acid attacks on women in Pakistan have been a cause of great concern and recent data shows that this heartless crime against women is reaching an all-time high in the country, where little help is found for acid victims from the law enforcing entities. The Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Pakistan recorded 48 cases of acid attacks in 2009. This is up from about 33 cases in 2007. 2010 does not seem to be any better for disfiguring women by acid attack.
These cases are only tip of the iceberg because many cases are unreported in Pakistan because of social stigma or desperate fear. In many such attacks the culprit is either a husband or other close relative such as brother or father, prompted by male egoistic sense of “protecting honour”, to throw acid on their women who they suspect either dishonoured the family by any of their action or just make these women victim of abysmal treatment. Though such acts of violence are banned in Pakistan no practical implementation has been seen so far. The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2010 tabled in the National Assembly on January 26, 2010 seeks to establish control mechanisms over the production, sale and distribution of acids, besides seeking increase in criminal sentences for the perpetrators of such crimes. But the lax implementation of such laws is a worrisome aspect for the victims and human rights groups that are struggling for the justice.
 

Acid Attacks - Innocent victims of inhuman brutality. Such acts of violence are banned in Pakistan but no practical implementation has been seen so far.
     
     
  
The Highest Increase in the Number of Reported Cases i.e. from 280 in 2008 to 608 in 2009 was in Domestic Violence. It is a cause for concern that a nation of over 90 million women and girls, does not have a domestic violence law. Different forms of domestic violence include beating, torture, disfigurement, burning, shaving and murder. In-laws abuse and harass married women. Dowry and family-related disputes often result in death or disfigurement by burning or acid.
According to a 2008 HRCP report, 80 percent of wives in rural Punjab feared violence from their husbands, and nearly 50 percent of wives in developed urban areas admitted that their husbands beat them. The HRCP reported 52 cases of women doused with kerosene and set afire. Women who tried to report abuse faced serious challenges. Police and judges were reluctant to take action in domestic violence cases, viewing them as family problems. Police, instead of filing charges, usually responded by encouraging the parties to reconcile. Abused women usually were returned to their abusive family members. Women are reluctant to pursue charges because of the stigma attached to divorce and their economic and psychological dependence on relatives. Relatives are hesitant to report abuse for fear of dishonoring the family.
 

Somi Khalid, 26, Acid attack survivor in Pakistan, January, 2010.
     
  

The Tragic real life story of Fazeelat Bibi of Zafarkey.
 
Sher Mohammed, from the small village of Zafarkey, outside of Lahore, Pakistan, wanted to marry his 22-year-old cousin Fazeelat Bibi (left). He came with family members to ask her parents for her hand but they refused as her eldest sister was unhappily married into their family. Members of his family started to threaten her, saying they would destroy her face. On September 28, 2009, a month and a half after the rejected proposal, Fazeelat was on her way home from work at the brick kiln with her brother and elderly father, when five people had jumped out of the crops and Sher Mohammed, the man who wanted to be her husband, sliced off her nose and slashed her ear. Fazeelat's mother died of shock when she saw her daughter maimed and drenched in blood.
     
     
  
In the latest spate of bombings sweeping Pakistan, women have yet again become targets. First came the twin suicide bombing on the International Islamic University in Islamabad (20 October, 2009), which included an attack on the women’s canteen. On 28 October, 2009, more than 100 people were killed in the car bombing of a bazaar in Peshawar which was frequented largely by women.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto happened on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Bhutto was twice Prime Minister of Pakistan from (1988 - 1990 and 1993 - 1996). She was campaigning ahead of elections due in January 2008 and was shot after a political rally at Liaquat National Bagh. A suicide bomb was detonated immediately following the shooting. Bhutto had previously survived a similar attempt on her life that killed at least 139 people, after her return from exile two months earlier.
 

Target killing of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007.
   
     
 
Discriminated by Laws & Ignored / Punished by Upholders of the Law   
 
Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion and head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the country’s largest such nongovernmental group was beaten up with batons in the full glare of the news media, her shirt torn off and after he ritual public humiliation was over, she and others were dragged screaming and protesting to police stations all for the so called crime of attempting to organize a symbolic mixed-gender mini-marathon on May 14, 2005. Tensions boiled over, as Islamist groups and supporters of the political Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) armed with firearms, batons and Molotov cocktails, violently opposed the race, and Jahangir received especially rough treatment from local police and intelligence agents. A police officer told Jahangir that they had orders to be strict and to tear off the participant’s clothes.
   
     
 
 
 
 
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