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18 women face heinous crimes daily in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Like Qandeel Baluch of Multan and the 16-year-old girl of Dera Ismail Khan, about 18 women of Pakistan face heinous crimes every day in four provinces of the country as they are murdered, raped, or killed in the name of honour, fresh official data collected by The News revealed. While experts believe a large number of crimes against women remain unreported in the country due to cultural and other reasons, even the reported cases show an alarming trend. So far this year alone, at least 274 women have been killed in the name of honour, 206 gang-raped, 2840 raped, and 681 have been murdered across the country, the data of registered cases. In total, more than 5660 crimes were reported against women in Pakistan’s four provinces during the first 10 months of the year. Such is the gravity of the situation that even when this story was being complied, the news channels reported a fresh gang rape of a physically challenged 16-year-old girl in Faisalabad at the hands of unknown multiple culprits.

As expected, Punjab, the most populous province of the country is worst in terms of number of crimes. More than 3400 women faced heinous crimes in the province during first six months of the year. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported lowest number of crimes against women with 202 cases between January 1st to June 30, 2017. Sindh witnessed 1704 crimes in first 10 months of the year while Balochistan reported 354 cases during the same period.

Experts believe reporting of crime is better in Punjab and Sindh which may explain the higher number of recorded crimes in these provinces while in KP and Balochistan, tribal culture and Jirga system discourages women from reporting crimes.

 

However if we compare the numbers with population of respective provinces under 2017 census, Sindh is worst in terms of violence against women per person with 61 crimes per million people. Punjab witnessed 31 crimes against women per million people while KP witnesses 6.6 crimes per million and Balochistan saw 28.6 crimes per million people.

Pakistani media discussed in detail the murder of Qandeel Baluch, a social media celebrity from southern Punjab who was killed in the name of honor allegedly by his brother and a 16-year-old girl of DI Khan who was paraded naked for his brothers’ alleged “crime”. However a majority of other cases involving violence against women largely remained absent from the discourse on mainstream media during the year.

Punjab:

The data obtained through provincial right to information (RTI) law shows that despite pro-women legislation and increase in women quota in provincial parliament, violent crimes against women are on the rise across Punjab with over 3400 incidents of murder, honor killing, gang rape and acid burning during first six months of 2017. Over all in the province, 87 women were killed in the name of honor in first six months of 2017 alone. As many as 2608 women have been raped, 159 were gang- raped and 337 were murdered so far this year. The province has a population of 110 million according to fresh census conducted this year.

 

Talking to The News a top government official said the provincial government is fully committed to protect women rights and even Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif himself makes sure that action is taken against culprits involved in heinous crimes.

“Earlier this year the Chief Minister himself visited a 16-year-old victim of the ‘revenge rape’ in Multan which was carried out on the order of a panchayat (informal village council). He suspended the entire police station and also some senior officials for negligence and all the 13 culprits were arrested which shows the resolve of the government against such crime,” says Fauzia Waqar, Chairperson Punjab Commission on the Status of women, a government body aimed at improving women rights in the province.

When asked about highest number of crimes in the country in Punjab she said the province represents 55% population of the country and it has better reporting system. However she admitted that southern Punjab lags behind other parts of the province in terms of women rights owing to lack of education, tribal culture and police mind-set.

“Violence against women is worst in these southern districts despite government efforts to prioritise these areas in development funds,” Ms Waqar said. In Muzaffargarh 25 women were murdered, three killed in the name of honour, 7 gang-raped and 124 raped during first six months of 2017. The district top the chart when it comes to crimes against women with 356 cases for this period surpassing Lahore, the Capital and the most populous district of Punjab which witnessed 219 such crimes during the same period. In Rahim Yar Khan, 297 crimes were committed against women while in Vehari 285 such cases were reported according to police data obtained by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI). Over all in Punjab, the data shows 337 women have been murdered, 87 killed in the name of honor, 1365 raped and 84 gang-raped between January to June 2017.

“Yes the data shows increase in number of crimes against women in the province but there could be various factors contributing to this phenomenon. Firstly, the population of the province is increasing so the ratio of crime may remain the same but the number will increase. Secondly after the introduction of 18 new laws for the protection of women, more women are encouraged to report violence against them which shows hike in numbers,” Fauzia Waqar said.

She said in southern Punjab police sometime does not report the cases. “We also have feudal mindset in some parts of the province which contributes to crime against women. Overall a lot of work is still needed to be done to ensure protection of women rights in the province,” she said.

The data for the year 2016 shows 7313 crimes against women in the province with Rahim Yar Khan being the most violent district with 636 crimes, followed by Vehari with 615 and Muzaffargarh with 550 crime incidents. The Capital Lahore remained number four with 547 crimes against women.

In 2015, 6505 crimes were reported against women in Punjab whereas Rahim Yar Khan against remained the most violent district with 794 crimes followed by Vehari with 747 incidents and Multan with 659 crimes. Lahore remained number four with 508 incidents and Muzaffargarh remained number five with 326 such crimes.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

Although the number of reported crimes against women is lowest in KP, the experts believe the tribal culture and Jirga system discourages many women from reporting crimes against them. The police data obtained from KP shows 202 crimes against women in first six months of this year but surprisingly there is not a single reported incident of sexual or physical harassment in the province. As many as 97 women were murdered in the province during this period while 24 were killed in the name of honor. There were 72 rape cases and six incidents of domestic violence in the province. In comparison, last year’s data show the province witnessed 211 murders, 44 honor killing, 163 rapes and one gang-rape incident along with cases of 24 domestic violence and one acid burning. The province witnessed 112 incidents of physical harassment last year.

Despite repeated attempts the Chairperson of Provincial Commission on Status of Women Neelam Toro did not respond to The News for her version.

 

However prominent women rights activist in KP, Rukhshanda Naz who is also a member of UN women Civil Society Advisory Group in Pakistan said crimes against women are relatively low in the province due to some cultural reasons. But she admitted low reporting in tribal areas.

“Firstly in tribal areas every household has gun so criminals would think twice before targeting a women in those areas. Secondly, even if the crime against women occurs people will not report it to police and instead go for resolution through a Jirga,” Toro said.

She said the cases of sexual harassment are not reported in the province as there is no mechanism to report such crimes in business or government organisations. When it comes to honor killing, the crime is hidden as the relative would term it suicide, she added.

“Sometime people do not report rape or harassment as they do not trust the justice system. They do not want to get embarrassed in the society especially when they are skeptical about chances of getting justice”, Toro who also runs a civil society organisation “Legal Aid and Awareness Services” said.

 

Toro said domestic violence is accepted in some parts of KP as symbol of a man’s “power” and “honour”.

She said in the notorious case of parading a 16-year-old girl in Dera Ismail Khan, an influential politician was allegedly involved which made it extremely difficult for the victim to get justice. She stressed the need for proper collection of data on crime against women in the province.

Sindh:

The province witnessed 2934 crimes against women in just 10 months of this year. As many as 57 women were killed in the name of honour during this period while 215 were murdered in Sindh. More than 156 women in Karachi and other parts of Sindh were raped while 47 have been gang-raped so far this year in the province. The province also witnessed 135 kidnapping of women, 1099 abduction and three forced marriages. So far this year, not a single person was convicted for these crimes although 1316 people have been arrested out of total 3553 accused.

Last year, the rural Sindh witnessed 100 incidents of honor killing, 165 rapes and 13 gang rapes, 5 acid attacks and six forced marriages while total crimes against women remained 2817. For all these crimes committed in 2016 just 7 convictions have been made.

While contacted for version, Justice (R) Mrs. Majida Razvi, Chairperson of official Sindh Human Rights Commission said the provincial government is showing political will to fight crime against women but it is facing challenges in implementation.

“Sindh has come up with highest number of women protection laws during last few years but it would take some time to change the mindset in the society,” Justice Razvi said. She said influential people in Sindh do not allow proper prosecution involving crimes against women.

“There is also lack of awareness in police and law enforcement agencies about women rights but the commission is trying to train police in this regard,” she said adding that Jirga system is also a big impediment in improving women rights in the province.

Balochistan:

Although the province witnesses 354 crimes against women during the first 10 months of this year, the per capita crime average is not very encouraging in this province if we compare it to other federating units of Pakistan. The province which has a population of 12.3 million according to 2017 census, witnesses 28.6 crimes against women per million people. According to police data the province witnessed 24 incidents of honour killing, 32 incidents of murders, four of rape and zero incident of gang-rape. The province witnessed 84 incidents of domestic violence. Last year, the province witnessed 371 crimes against women including 43 murders, 31 honour killings, five rapes and one gang-rape. Two incidents of acid throwing and 105 incidents of domestic violence were also reported in 2016.

The human rights expert like Rukhshanda Naz believes the data in Balochistan is highly under-reported owing to tribal culture and volatile law and order situation in the province.

People’s participation in budget making stressed

LAKKI MARWAT: The Citizen Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) has expressed its disappointment over the budget-making process at district level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying it lacks people’s participation and transparency.

This was revealed by CPDI programme manager Shoaib Akbar and Inayatullah Khan during a session on Friday. The session was arranged by a community development organisation with the support of the Centre for Peace and Development (CPDI) at the Council Hall in neighbouring Tank district.

The participants shared their views about making budget and said that public participation could make a budget people friendly. They urged the authorities concerned to conduct pre-budget consultative sessions at the grassroots level to provide people with opportunities to give their inputs and suggestions for budget making.

Mr Inayatullah said that local governments failed to ensure public participation in budget-making process, while the district governments did not release any pre-budget statements for public information.

He said that in many districts the authorities concerned did not hold pre-budget consultation with the local people.

The speakers said that the performance of district governments with regard to ensuring transparency in budget-making process was not satisfactory as they did not take any practical steps to enable the citizens to have an easy access to the budget through modern means of information technology.

They said that the websites of district governments were functional in only five districts, while the posts of district planning officers in 11 districts and over hundred posts of subordinate officials linked with budget-related matters were vacant, hindering the process of budget making of local governments.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1375512

Call to reduce gender gap in voters’ list

ISLAMABAD: The Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) has stressed the need to reduce gender gap between number of registered voters in Pakistan. The situation is perturbing as the gap between number of male and female voters has crossed 12 million.
In a statement issued by CED on National Voters’ Day Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager at Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) said that the voter data trends were alarming because the gender gap had expanded by two million to the disadvantage of female voters since 2013. It is estimated that the voters’ list will have well over 100 million citizens and the gap between male and female voters is feared to increase further.
While referring to the provisional census data he stated that female population was slightly over 50% but their percentage in electoral rolls has not touched 44%, this situation warrants drastic measures.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), political parties and civil society need to work jointly to bridge this gap.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/253685-call-to-reduce-gender-gap-in-voters-list

‘Electoral processes inclusive for all citizens’

LAKKI MARWAT: Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections (PAIE) has expressed a dire need to make Pakistan’s electoral processes more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. This was shared on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrated at Centre for peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI).

In a statement issued by CPDI on Wednesday the senior program officer Fatmia Shah said that the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 proclaimed annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons in 1992. “It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and to increase awareness about situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life”, she said, adding that with Pakistan heading close to general elections it is high time to focus on all facets of our electoral processes.

She said, “we need to make our electoral processes inclusive for all citizens, especially for persons with disabilities”. The CPDI senior program officer said that Pakistan is a signatory and has also ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). She said that accessible polling stations for PWDs were a crucial first step to bring persons with disabilities towards mainstream electoral processes. While referring to PAIE’s recent accessibility audit of polling stations in NA-4 she said that 95% of the sampled polling stations were not completely accessible for PWD.

“This situation calls for immediate corrective measures on part of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as electoral events conceived and held in exclusion of a segment of society are not in agreement with true spirit of electoral democracy”, she remarked. The CPDI SPO revealed that government made provision of postal ballot for the PWDs in section 93 of the recently passed Election Act 2017 that allows persons with disability to take part in Elections, adding that under section 48 of the act the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is required to take special measures for registration of disabled persons in the electoral rolls.

She said that the special measures were encouraging but we should never forget the importance and impact of being part of the mainstream procedure. “The exposure that one receives by passing through the procedure on the Election Day in that environment has its own importance in democratic training of the citizens, she emphasized. She said that there was great need to bring PWDs into the mainstream rather than excluding them.

“We need to make our procedures and systems inclusive and accessible for all; this also coincides with the theme of this year’s International Day of Person with Disabilities; that is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”. “CPDI from the platform of PAIE demands this transformation for Pakistan’s electoral procedures to make it accessible for all”, she added.

‘Electoral processes inclusive for all citizens’

Female voters missing from electoral lists: report

LAHORE: An alliance of civil society organisations has stressed upon the need to reduce the gender gap between numbers of registered voters in Pakistan. The situation is perturbing as the gap between the number of male and female voters has crossed 12 million.
In a statement issued on the National Voters’ Day on Thursday, Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager of Coalition for Election and Democracy (CED), said the voter data trends were alarming because the gender gap had expanded by two million in disadvantage of female voters since 2013.
It is estimated that the voters’ lists will have well over 100 million citizens and the gap between male and female voters is feared to increase further. Referring to the provisional census data, he stated that female population was slightly over 50 percent but their percentage in electoral rolls has not touched 44 percent, this situation warrants drastic measures.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), political parties and civil society need to work jointly to bridge this gap. He said the 2018 general election was around the corner and further delay in corrective measures would mean denial to democratic rights of 12 million female voters.
Raja Shoaib expressed the hope that recent announcement of the ECP’s campaign for female voter registration would gain momentum and would get right direction for achievement of its goals. A major cause of gender gap is lack of women CNIC registration, Nadra should take up this challenge and deploy additional mobile registration teams in the low women registration areas. The registration authority also needs to immediately increase its daily targets for the field teams, he further said. At the end, Raja Shoaib said the dream of inclusion of women in mainstream democratic process could not be achieved without active role of political parties. The political parties should adhere to the provisions of new Election Act 2017 by increasing female party membership and their registration as voters and candidates.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/253512-female-voters-missing-from-electoral-lists-report

Make electoral process inclusive for differently abled

As the Election Commission of Pakistan took steps to bring women into the electoral fold with a special campaign to register them as voters, one group has called on the apex polling body to also strive to make the electoral process inclusive for the differently abled.

Japan, UNDP team up to strengthen Pakistan’s electoral process

The Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections (PAIE) and the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that there was no reason that this segment of the society should be left behind in exercising their democratic rights.

 

Fatima Shah, a senior programme officer at CPDI, said that with the country close to another general election, it was time to focus on all facets of the electoral processes.

“We need to make our electoral processes inclusive for all citizens, especially for the physically challenged,” she said, reminding that Pakistan is a signatory to and has also ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“The convention clearly states in Article 29 that state parties will ensure PWDs political rights and provide the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis as others.”

In this regard, Shah said that creating accessible polling stations was a crucial first step to bringing the physically challenged into the mainstream electoral processes.

PAIE’s recent accessibility audit of polling stations in NA-4 Peshawar found that an overwhelmingly 95 per cent of sampled polling stations were not completely accessible to the differently abled.

This situation, Shah said, warrants immediate corrective measures on part of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) since electoral events conceived and held while excluding a segment of the society are at odds with the true spirit of electoral democracy. The government has made a provision for the postal ballot for the differently abled in section 93 of the recently passed Election Act 2017, which allows such people to take part in the elections.

ECP unveils plan for electronic voting

Moreover, under section 48 of the act, the ECP is required to take special measures for registering differently in the electoral rolls. “These special measures are encouraging but we should never forget the importance and impact of being part of the mainstream procedure. The exposure that one receives by passing through the procedure on the Election Day in that environment has its own importance in the democratic training of the citizens,” Shah emphasised.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2017.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1576910/1-make-electoral-process-inclusive-differently-abled/

CPDI flays delay in Punjab PFC award announcement

TOBA TEK SINGH – The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has expressed its concerns over delay in the announcement of Punjab Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) award .
In a press conference, CPDI district coordinator M Shahid said that the process of devolution of power was incomplete without a formula to share the provincial divisible pool among the local governments. He stated that Punjab Local Government Law was passed in 2013 but there had been no PFC award except for an interim award that was announced in January 2017 and expired in June..He also said that Punjab government showed some movement on the subject by constituting the commission and holding its first meeting in July this year. But since then, there had been no progress for the announcement of PFC award , he said.
The provincial government must fulfill its responsibility by taking concrete steps for immediate announcement of PFC award , he further stressed. He said according to budget calendar the time to initiate budget making process has already arrived and further delay in announcing the award will hamper the process at districts level. It will also adversely affect development planning of the districts, he said.
He further added that Section 112 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 requires from the PFC to devise a financial sharing formula between the province and the districts and among the local councils. He urged the provincial government to move swiftly towards announcement of new PFC award for distribution of provincial allocatable amount to local governments.
Referring to the provision under article 140-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, he stated that the idea of Provincial Finance Commission Award was vital for devolution of financial responsibility and authority to elected representatives of local governments as enshrined in the constitution. He demanded the provincial government immediately fulfill its constitutional and legal responsibility by expediting the proceedings of the PFC and announcing the Provincial Finance Commission award without further delay .
He also hoped that the Punjab government would strengthen the local government system by giving them more liberty on the use of their financial share in the provincial divisible pool.

http://nation.com.pk/24-Nov-2017/cpdi-flays-delay-in-punjab-pfc-award-announcement

CPDI flays delay in Punjab PFC award announcement

TOBA TEK SINGH – The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has expressed its concerns over delay in the announcement of Punjab Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) award .
In a press conference, CPDI district coordinator M Shahid said that the process of devolution of power was incomplete without a formula to share the provincial divisible pool among the local governments. He stated that Punjab Local Government Law was passed in 2013 but there had been no PFC award except for an interim award that was announced in January 2017 and expired in June..He also said that Punjab government showed some movement on the subject by constituting the commission and holding its first meeting in July this year. But since then, there had been no progress for the announcement of PFC award , he said.
The provincial government must fulfill its responsibility by taking concrete steps for immediate announcement of PFC award , he further stressed. He said according to budget calendar the time to initiate budget making process has already arrived and further delay in announcing the award will hamper the process at districts level. It will also adversely affect development planning of the districts, he said.
He further added that Section 112 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 requires from the PFC to devise a financial sharing formula between the province and the districts and among the local councils. He urged the provincial government to move swiftly towards announcement of new PFC award for distribution of provincial allocatable amount to local governments.
Referring to the provision under article 140-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, he stated that the idea of Provincial Finance Commission Award was vital for devolution of financial responsibility and authority to elected representatives of local governments as enshrined in the constitution. He demanded the provincial government immediately fulfill its constitutional and legal responsibility by expediting the proceedings of the PFC and announcing the Provincial Finance Commission award without further delay .
He also hoped that the Punjab government would strengthen the local government system by giving them more liberty on the use of their financial share in the provincial divisible pool.

http://nation.com.pk/24-Nov-2017/cpdi-flays-delay-in-punjab-pfc-award-announcement