Pakistan: Despite Women's Protection Act, 33 per cent increase in violence against women Print E-mail

“growing trend of sexual harassment of women at workplaces, and for protecting police officials involved in such cases”

 Pakistan - Saturday August 11 2007

Opposition slams govt on increasing violence against women

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The opposition took the government to task in the Senate on Friday over what it described as the “illegal” appointment of the PTV managing director, and increasing violence against women despite the passage of the Women’s Protection Act.

Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani had to face an embarrassing situation in the House when the PPPP’s Enver Baig inquired into the reasons behind PTV Managing Director Yousaf Baig Mirza being sacked after the October 12 military coup. Durrani evaded Baig’s query.

During the question-answer session, the government told the House that an increase of about 33 percent had been recorded in crimes against women in 2006-07 compared to 2005. According to statistics submitted before the House, in 2005 there were 7,023 cases of honour killing, acid throwing, domestic violence, stove burning and sexual harassment. The Senate was informed that 10,667 cases of violence against women were reported in 2006 and the first quarter of 2007. This shows an increase of 3,644 cases.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Kamil Ali Agha, however, said there was a declining trend in domestic violence against women after the Women Protection Act and that the women of Pakistan felt a greater sense of security. He said the government had taken a number of steps to curb domestic violence, honour killings and acid throwing incidents.

Babar Awan, Prof Khurshid Ahmed and Latif Khosa grilled the government on the growing trend of sexual harassment of women at workplaces, and for protecting police officials involved in such cases. They stated that not a single police official has been convicted in any such case so far. The Senate was told that 15 officials from Punjab were booked for sexually harassing women, 30 from Sindh and three from Islamabad during 2006 and 2007. All of them were, however, helped to gain acquittals from the courts and were not dismissed from service.

The Senate was informed that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had allotted two plots to the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) for construction of its headquarters.

Kamil Ali Agha, responding to questions on behalf of Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, said NADRA is currently paying over Rs 3.6 million per month in rent for 258 buildings for its offices across Pakistan. He rejected allegations of corruption in the renting process and said the amount was fairly reasonable. He also said the idea of NADRA housing all its offices in owned rather than rented buildings was not feasible because that would involve massive financial resources. However, he said that after the headquarters had been constructed in Islamabad, the authority would construct offices in provincial capitals and then in districts in a phased manner with its own funds.