The surge in the violence against women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the dysfunctional KP Commission on Status of Women (KPCSW) has put a question mark on the attitude of the KP government towards the eradication of violence against women in the province.
The KPCSW was formed in 2009 through an act of law to promote women’s rights and check discrimination against women. The most basic purpose to establish the Commission was to have a regulatory monitoring body that can work with sister government organizations as well as with NGO’s towards the emancipation of women, equalization of opportunities including socio-economic condition among women and men. But due to the non-serious attitude of the KP government, the commission is dysfunctional and is yet to officially form District bodies even after 11 years of its formulation.
Despite the fact that huge grants of Rs 40 million were allocated for its activities, it has badly failed to reduce violence against women in the province.
According to Aurat Foundation, an NGO working for women rights, an increase of 20 per cent has been noted in cases of violence against women in KP; highlighting that murder, honor killing was on top followed by other domestic violence issues.
As per the details released by Aurat Foundation the decade of state impunity (2009-2019), around 778 women were killed only in 2019, showing a steady rise in violence against women. As a whole, a total of 4,504 women and girls were reportedly killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last 11 years.
Other than addressing women issues, the Commission has a mandate to conduct research on the issues related to the women of KPK especially those living in the remote areas of the province. The step was aimed to advise and better inform government regarding women issues and help the legislators to concentrate on relevant issues including Gender Based Violence. It would have also helped NGO sector to better understand the current status of women in the light of facts provided through Research papers but unfortunately nothing has been done in this regard and no worthwhile research has been conducted so far.
While talking to us on phone, an official associated with the commission revealed that the commission was apparently formed for helping the government to reduce the domestic violence against the women in KP; but it was nothing more than a political tool; most of the appointments in commission are based on nepotism who lacks the requisite skills or knowledge and thus affecting the productivity of commission. The official without mentioning his name further said that political meddling is high in the commission which has led to its failure.
It is important to mention that the KPCSW main responsibility was to play a key role in discouraging honor killings, domestic violence against women, forced marriages of minor girls and other women related issues in the province but unfortunately it has failed to deliver.
According to another official, in a major development in December 2017, the PTI-led government in KP had decided to implement the KP Commission on Status of Women Act, 2010 about the formation of DCSWs but the government failed to notify the official District Commission.
He further claimed that the commission is of no use without its complete setup on the district level and this is the reason that the KP government is under huge criticism from the civil society and NGOs.
Keeping in view the rise in violence against women, there is a need for activating the commission to its full potential to stem the rising trend in violence against KP women. The commission is a very good initiative and government should ensure that it works up to its full potential. It can work as a guiding hand for all institutes, policy makers and NGOs to invest in right areas and approach correctly to women issues in different areas.