Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 17:14 UK

Violence against Pakistani women

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Karachi

cover of human rights commission of pakistan's report for 2007
The Commission called 2007 a 'brutal year for women'

A Pakistani human rights organisation says violence against women more than doubled to over 4,000 cases last year.

It also says that more suicide attacks took place in the country in 2007 than in all previous years combined.

Conservative social practices and religious extremism are identified as the main cause of gender inequalities.

Islamic militants have increasingly resorted to suicide attacks to outgun the government troops they are fighting in the northwest.

The report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says 4,276 cases of women's rights abuses during the year have been recorded.

The HRCP Secretary Iqbal Haider, who launched the report, called 2007 "a brutal year for women".

'Gross understatement'

In 2006, the Commission had recorded 1,821 cases of women's rights abuses - itself an increase over 2005.

But the report calls these statistics "a gross understatement", saying "many cases go unreported or are hushed up".

It says it is also difficult to gather follow-up information on reported incidents, such as whether the perpetrators of violence were arrested, or how their court trials went.

The report says 636 women became victims of honour killing, 731 were raped and 736 kidnapped.

Many more women were killed for reasons other than honour - burnt by their in-laws, sexually harrassed at their homes or work places, or subjected to domestic violence.


The report highlighted a general apathy towards women's rights at the political level, too.

For example, it stated: "the voters' list was changed twice (before February elections), and it was observed that those suffering from huge discrepancies in numbers were women."

Meanwhile, continued bombing of girls' schools by Taleban militants in the northwest of the country had "badly affected the attendance and enrolment of girls in schools."

The Taleban have also been hitting military, police and other government targets in the northwest of the country, mainly by means of suicide attacks.

The Commission says as many as 927 people were killed in 71 suicide attacks in various parts of the country during 2007.

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