Due to the absence of effective legislation and sluggish justice system domestic violence has always been one of the issues faced by women in Pakistan especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) including newly formed tribal districts.
The domestic violence has witnessed a rapid spike in KP during Covid19 lockdown imposed by the government.
According to many women activists working against domestic violence in KP, the number of unreported cases of domestic violence against women in the province was much higher than the reported cases which is the reason that they were not able to find the actual number. Many victims of domestic violence have no access to report the case to a concern authority.
While talking to Voice of KP on the condition of anonymity, Amna– a victim of the domestic violence from district Mardan– said that before lockdown she was a teacher at private school and her husband was an employee at a private company in Islamabad. She said that all home affairs were running smoothly but Covid19 lockdown imposed by the government rendered both she and her husband jobless.
She cried that after losing jobs during Covid19 lockdown, her husband started beating her regularly out of frustration as they had no money to run the home affairs or even feed their children, adding that she finally consulted a psychiatrist for her mental care but the violence had greatly changed her life pushing her into domestic violence.
Meanwhile, talking to Voice of KP, Advocate Sana Ahmad who is associated with Blue Veins an organisation working for women empowerment and against domestic violence said that domestic violence is a global issue but if we talk about Pakistan and particularly KP, it is rapidly increasing with every passing day.
She claimed that according to a survey conducted back in 2018, a total of 52 percent women in KP and 66 percent women in newly formed tribal districts have faced domestic violence in recent years. She added that KP was on the top of list where ratio of domestic violence was on rapid rise across the country.
Sana Ahmad further elaborated that UN had cautioned the member countries to activate their concerned response units as the world may see additional 31 million cases of domestic violence during lockdown.
She lamented that all the provinces of the country had placed strict laws for protection of women but the KP government had failed to make proper legislation for protecting women from domestic violence in the province.
Sana maintained that the figures were alarming but more alarming was the fact that there was no justice for women as reports in newspapers, from which the data was collected, also showed that the alleged killers in most cases were close relatives of the victims.
On the other hand surge in the violence against women in KP 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.
Despite the visible surge in violence against women in the province, the KP government has yet to fully functional the (KPCSW) which was formed in 2009 through an act of law to promote women rights and check discrimination against them. The purpose to establish the Commission was to have a regulatory monitoring body that can work with sister government organisations as well as with NGOs towards the emancipation of women, equalisation of opportunities including socio-economic uplift 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 formation.
Despite the fact that huge grant of Rs40 million allocated for its activities it has badly failed to reduce violence against women in the province.
According to a latest report of the 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, honour killing was on top followed by other domestic violence issues, adding that a total of 4,504 women and girls were reportedly killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last 11 years.
It is important to mention here that Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace, and Security index among the five worst countries for women in the world. According to 2016 data, 26.8 per cent of Pakistani women said they have experienced intimate partner violence. According to another report of the Aurat Foundation, Pakistan is a country where almost 70% of women are victims of domestic violence, at least once in their lives. This violence is generally committed by their intimate partners, husbands. These figures, however, do not include psychological violence, which is even more common in urban communities.