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Life is getting worse for women, says report

Militancy, government inaction cited as main causes

Women in Pakistan are exposed to increased violence and inequality Women in Pakistan are exposed to increased violence and inequality
  • ucanews.com report, Lahore
  • Pakistan
  • March 19, 2013
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An upsurge in militancy and poor governance are major factors behind increased violence against women and a growing gender imbalance in the country, according to a report on women’s rights in Pakistan.

The report, “Obstructing Progress: Growing Talibanization and Poor Governance in Pakistan” was released on Monday by Shirkat Gah, a women’s resource center based in Karachi.

“Armed conflicts … have created an atmosphere of intense insecurity, negatively impacting women and girls. The state has failed to check armed jihadi militant groups with uncourageous bigotry and misogynist views propagated by seminaries and educational institutes,” the report states. 

The report, endorsed by 19 civil society organizations, contradicts a recent report highlighting initiatives taken by the government for women’s empowerment and presented to a UN committee on the Conventions on Elimination of All Kind of Discrimination against Women last month.

According to Shirkat Gah, hundreds of girls' schools have been bombed, while women have been denied employment and participation in elections.

At least 10 women’s rights defenders have been killed since 2010, while nine female polio vaccinators were killed last December, Shirkat Gah added.

“Women of marginalized and targeted ethnic and religious minorities suffer emotional and economic distress after losing their menfolk and having to take charge of households,” the report continued. 

Shirkat Gah also noted the impact of what it called the non-implementation of pro-women laws.

It recommended the National Database Registration Authority to extend its services to 3.72 million women voters still lacking biometric records and thus prevented from voting. It also called for the establishment of provincial commissions for women in all four of Pakistan’s provinces.

Shirkat Gah also slammed the existence of parallel legal systems including jirgas and panchayats (assemblies of elders) “which exclude women almost entirely and perpetuate their vulnerability to physical, social and sexual exploitation.”

“We do not aim to disgrace the government but help them understand realities on the ground. We urge all political parties to ensure in their future plans to include concrete steps to implement UN conventions,” Shirkat Gah director Fouzia Viqar told ucanews.com.

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