ISLAMABAD: More than 14,000 rape cases were reported in Pakistan during the last four years, the Ministry of Human Rights told the National Assembly on Friday.
The ministry submitted a written reply during the session in response to a query by PPP MNA Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro. The MNA had asked the ministry for a breakdown of harassment and rape cases in the country since 2018 as well as the steps the government had taken to combat this.
In its written reply, the ministry said that 16,153 cases of sexual violence against women and workplace harassment were reported during the last four years.
The document, based on the information received from the National Police Bureau, only accounts for the first six months of the current year (from January to June).
The ministry divided the crimes reported into two categories: sexual violence and workplace harassment. The former was further divided into four sub-categories: rape, gang-rape, custodial and incest.
Incidents under the category for workplace harassment were also separated according to them being physical, sexual and psychological in nature.
According to the breakdown provided by the ministry, 5,048 cases of sexual violence and workplace harassment were reported in 2018, 4,751 in 2019, 4,276 in 2020 and 2,078 in 2021.
The data shows that Punjab reported the highest number of overall cases in 2018 (3,496), followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1,164) and Sindh (328). There were 4,326 rape cases recorded during the year.
In 2019, Punjab again reported the highest number of cases (4,089), followed by Sindh (346) and KP (259). The year also saw 4,377 rape cases being reported.
A similar trend was also witnessed in 2020, with the highest number of cases again being reported from Punjab (3,250), followed by Sindh (386) and KP (299). Around 3,887 rape cases were also reported.
Meanwhile, the data until June 2021 shows that the most number of cases were reported in Punjab (1,687), followed by Sindh (226) and KP (125). No cases were reported in Gilgit-Baltistan while 1,886 rape cases were reported till June.
The ministry also highlighted the steps taken by the government to curb such incidents, stating that a project titled ‘Human Rights Awareness Programme’ had been launched to “create awareness among the public with a special focus on the rights of women and children”.
The ministry said that it also regularly ogranises awareness programmes with exclusive sessions on women’s rights and pro-women laws, adding that it was also operating a free helpline (1099) for legal advice regarding human rights violations.
The ministry noted that the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2021 had also been promulgated recently.
The ministry said it had launched a public awareness campaign on child abuse, while the Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat for Protection against Harassment of Women also runs print and electronic campaigns in order to reach victims of harassment.
“Moreover, field units of police are sensitised by the provincial/regional police offices to provide awareness regarding sexual harassment to the general public,” the ministry said.
Rape cases in Punjab
The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) held a dissemination workshop on the key findings of the 4th gender parity report 2019-20.
According to the report, between 2019 and 2020, reported cases of rape decreased by 2.8pc, acid burning by 24pc while honour killings increased by 20pc.
The report was compiled to provide an update on key women-related indicators in six thematic areas across 36 districts in Punjab.
It presented gender dis-aggregated data analysis collected from over 1,000 public offices against more than 200 indicators across demographics, governance, health, education, economic participation and opportunities, justice and special initiatives introduced by the Punjab government.
The workshop aimed to disseminate findings of the report to key public sector and civil society stakeholders, and obtain their feedback and recommendations based on data to realise improvement in women’s lives.
In addition, public sector officials were consulted in order to realise gender-sensitive policy planning and budgeting across all sectors.
The report provided a comparative analysis using figures from the 2018 gender parity report to capture an accurate picture of trends in women’s status.
The report showed that the number of reported cases of violence against women (murder, attempted murder, rape, gang rape, honour killing, acid burning, beating, vani, custodial rape and hurt) increased by 0.96pc between 2018 and 2020 with rape reported most often and burning and vani least often.
Between 2019 and 2020, reported cases of rape decreased by 2.8pc, acid burning by 24pc and honour killings increased by 20pc. Of all violence cases decided in Punjab in 2020, only 5.4pc resulted in convictions. The number of help desks for women in police stations across Punjab increased by 21.9pc between 2018 and 2020.
Projections based on the 2017 population and housing census showed that Punjab had 117 million people in 2020 — 51pc men, 49pc women and 0.006pc transgender persons.
The population falls predominantly within the age bracket of 20-49 years. Around 4.5 million (51pc) men and 4.2 million (49pc) women were issued CNICs in 2020. CNICs issued to transgender persons decreased by 84pc from 2017 to 2020; 43 transgender persons were issued CNICs in Punjab in 2020.
Early childbearing age decreased by 2.6pc between 2014 and 2017-18.
The number of girl child birth registrations decreased by 31.5pc. The report stated that female voter registration increased by 10pc between 2017 and 2018. Male life expectancy in the province increased from 67.7 years in 2016 to 69.5 years in 2020 and female life expectancy from 66.9 years in 2016 to 68.3 years in 2020. More than 50 representatives of government and civil society organisations participated in the workshop.