A women's rights foundation today called on the Punjab government to pass more comprehensive domestic violence legislation to combat what it sees as a growing threat to women in Pakistan. Abid Ali, program officer for policy and data monitoring at the Aurat Foundation
, said violence against women is a chronic problem. “More than 6,000 incidents of violence against women were registered last year. These included 26 cases of varied nature including rape, acid throwing, honor killing and sexual harassment mostly in rural areas,” Ali told attendees at a conference organized by the Punjab government to mark International Women’s Day at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. “We demand a Punjab domestic violence bill and its actual implementation.” Rahat Nasreen of Shirkat Gah
, one of more than 70 NGOs who attended the four-day event, said Punjab state has failed to protect women’s basic rights. “The usual culprits in such cases are family members who successfully persuade the victim to forgive them. The government and the courts should call [violence against women] a crime and punish the criminals.” Nasreen added that though the Pakistan government has introduced some legislation for the protection of women, it has done so only slowly and incrementally, and that they need to do much more.