Crime or Custom?

Violence Against Women in Pakistan

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In the wake of the military takeover in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch released this major report on the state of women's rights in the country. The 100-page report, Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan, documents a virtual epidemic of crimes of violence against women, including domestic violence rates as high as 90 percent, at least eight reported rapes every 24 hours nationwide, and an alarming rise in so-called honor killings.Violence against women has risen to staggering levels. Women's low social status and a long established pattern of active suppression of women's rights by successive governments has contributed to the escalation in violence. No government has acknowledged the scale and severity of the problem much less taken action to end the violence against women. When a Commission of Inquiry for women convened by the Pakistan Senate described domestic violence as one of the country's most pervasive violations of human rights, its findings were brushed aside by the Sharif government. As a result of such dismissive official attitudes, crimes of violence against women continue to be perpetrated with near total impunity.

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