Condemning the recent increase in cases of violence against women, particularly in domestic violence cases, the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) said on Saturday controversial and unclear stances coming from people holding high ranks in government and public administration enabled victim-blaming.
In a statement, SCSW chairperson Nuzhut Shirin said intimate partner violence had become a rising threat for women. “We recognise that violence against women does not happen in a vacuum and that a whole system of oppression enables it,” she said.
The commission said that recent heinous crimes committed against women required that immediate attention be paid towards amendments in laws to ensure the safety and security of women in Pakistan.
Shirin condemned delays in such actions and demanded immediate finalisation of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021 for it to turn into a law. “With increasing gender-based violence, besides paying attention towards sensitisation of the masses, the system of oppression that allows hideous crimes against women needs to be urgently addressed and dealt with.”
The SCSW recognises that the roots of gender-based violence go back to the patriarchal mindset of the society, and it will continue stressing the fact that awareness within the society needs to be worked on extensively. “The underprivileged individuals and groups do not have access to information regarding the existing laws and institutions meant to provide protection to women against violence,” said the statement.
It said that the commission aims to work with the civil society on awareness campaigns around crucial information as well as sensitisation that is the dire need of the society for it to be able to get rid of the patriarchal mindset that has been dominating women’s lives for decades.
“Besides insensitive and distressing comments from public officials that result in victim-blaming, other obstacles keeping women from reaching out for justice include delays in medical and forensic reports, changes in official reports, delays in submission of challans, hesitance on witnesses’ end, the demeaning attitude of lawyers, informal agreements decided amongst the accused and the complainant, unclear stances of judicial authority, inaccuracy in details during the registration of FIRs and incompetent role of investigation officers.”
The commission strongly condemned the misogynistic and patriarchal mindset of the society that morally policed women and exposed them to violent threats if they refused to comply. It also strongly condemned out-of-court settlements between the accused and the complainant.
Keeping these factors in mind, in order to assist the Sindh Police improve its mechanism, the SCSW has conducted training of judges of 27 gender-based violence courts with Legal Aid Society and Sindh Judicial Academy.
A training manual for police staff in Urdu and Sindhi on gender-based violence laws has also been published with the help of the SPO and distributed, the statement said . Furthermore, The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2013 has been translated into Urdu and Sindhi and distributed amongst communities, police and journalists to increase awareness of laws. Interactive discussions on the Domestic Violence Act were held to engage audiences.