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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
South Asian women 'vulnerable'
Women in India
Crimes against women are not properly investigated
By the BBC's Fiona Werge

The latest annual report from Amnesty International highlights the vulnerable position of women in much of South Asia.

The report says that governments, notably in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, show a bias against women by failing to investigate serious human rights abuses.

The report catalogues a series of abuses suffered by women in the region.

In Pakistan it says abuse against women is part of a wider picture of arbitrary arrests, torture and execution without legal process.

Women activists in Pakistan
Women fight for their rights
The report accuses the government, the police and the judiciary of persistant bias.

It claims that hundreds of women and girls have been killed for allegedly dishonouring male relatives - by having sexual relations outside marriage, choosing a marriage partner against parental wishes, or seeking a divorce.

Often a mere allegation - without proof - leads to a killing.

Dowry deaths

Similarly in Bangladesh the report says the government has failed to protect women from acid attacks and dowry-related murders, or to investigate rape in custody by police.

Widespread abuse
Pakistan
Honour killings
Police and judicial bias

Bangladesh
Acid attacks
Dowry murders
Custodial rape

India
Attacks on economocially and socially weak
In one case the police in Rajshahi were said to have demanded a large bribe before agreeing to investigate the reported gang rape of a 12-year-old girl.

The report says attacks on socially and economically weaker sections of society in India were commonplace and often with the apparant connivance of the police and local authorities.

Again it says women were particularly vulnerable to abuse.

The report does sound a positive note in Sri Lanka where it says the government has taken steps to address past human rights violations by the security forces.

They include the exhumation of the remains of 15 people reported to have disappeared four years ago.

But it concludes by saying that torture remains a serious concern in the country.

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See also:

21 Apr 00 | South Asia
Musharraf pledge on human rights
15 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistani rights abuse 'widespread'
07 Apr 00 | South Asia
Kashmir dead 'were villagers'
27 Apr 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh probes abuse allegations
12 Apr 00 | South Asia
Call for tougher Indian rape laws
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