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Enforcement Crucial, Broader Reforms Needed

Pakistan’s parliament has passed a bill that significantly strengthens protections for women in the workplace against violence and harassment. The new law, drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights with extensive input from women rights groups and…
Women's rights activists demonstrate to condemn violence against women in Lahore, Pakistan
News

An Important Step Toward Ending Widespread Abuses Against Women

This week the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, the highest body recommending judicial appointments, will consider the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would become the first woman appointed to the court.…
Justice Ayesha Malik Supreme Court Pakistan
News

International Women’s Day Should Prompt Real Reforms

As 2020 drew to a close, protesters across South Asia took to the streets, calling on their governments to take widespread sexual violence against women and children seriously, and to implement real reforms. But rather than listening to experts and…
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News

Death Penalty Push Ignores Real Solutions to Regional Failings

(New York) – South Asian governments should disregard populist death penalty rhetoric and listen to their own experts to prevent and end sexual violence against women, Human Rights Watch said in a video released today. Experts on sexual violence from…
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Video
(New York) – South Asian governments should disregard populist death penalty rhetoric and listen to their own experts to prevent and end sexual violence against women, Human Rights Watch said in a video released today. Experts on sexual violence from…
News

Ban Degrading, Unscientific, Abusive Test

Last week, Pakistan’s Ministry of Law and Justice recommended that the so-called “two-finger test” – invasive and medically meaningless vaginal exams imposed upon women and girls to determine whether they are virgins – should not be part of any…
The Lahore High Court, in Lahore, Pakistan.
News

‘Motorway Incident’ Protests Show Urgent Need for Police Reform

“Azaadi!” – or “freedom!” – women chanted on the streets of major cities across Pakistan on Saturday, as they protested police handling of a case known as the “motorway incident” – a shocking rape of a woman by multiple assailants. A police chief’s…
Women demonstrate to condemn the police response to the of rape of a woman by a highway, Islamabad, Pakistan, September 12, 2020.
News

Protect Health Workers, Ensure Essential Medical Care During Pandemic

With one of the highest maternal mortality rates in South Asia, Pakistan was already in crisis before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the reported closing of maternity wards in Islamabad, the capital, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa…
Pakistani women wearing face masks leave the Aga Khan hospital where a patient suspected of having contracted coronavirus was admitted, in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.
News
  What are your main concerns about the coronavirus in Asia? Because testing is so poor in most of Asia, we have no visibility about how widespread infections are. Overcrowded cities where social distancing is challenging or impossible also…
Factory workers wearing protective masks return to Dhaka from northern and southern districts in Bangladesh amid the government’s shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, April 4, 2020.
News

Sindh Province Legislation Will Bolster Rights in Rural Areas

Sindh province in Pakistan is taking an important step toward ending abuse and discrimination against women agricultural workers. On August 24, the Sindh cabinet approved the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act 2019, which will now be…
Pakistani women work in a field in Lahore.
News

India, Pakistan Should Accept Findings, Ensure Justice

(New York) – India and Pakistan should act on the recommendations of the United Nations human rights office to protect basic rights in the contested region of Kashmir, Human Rights Watch said today. The 43-page report by the Office of the UN…
Relatives of disappeared persons participate in a silent protest, demanding an investigation into the disappearances of people in Kashmir.
News

Allegations of Sale of Women to China Echo Abuses Elsewhere

Pakistan’s government should be alarmed by recent reports of trafficking of women and girls to China. These allegations are disturbingly similar to the pattern of trafficking of “brides” to China from at least five other Asian countries…
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Report
  Summary Soon after the Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013 in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing over a thousand workers, a top official from a global brand flew into Pakistan.[1] His sudden trip was sparked by the desperation to make up…
News

28 years after Kunan and Poshpora, abuses still persist

February 23 sticks in my mind the way a birthday does for most people. After my first 10 years of Bharatanatyam training, I performed my arangetram — a classical dancer’s debut full-length solo recital — on that day in 2013. In telling…
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News
  Sexual Harassment in Garment Factories Eleven women garment workers from a factory in southern India sent a hand-written letter to a local union in late 2016.[1] They wrote: “The plight of women workers … we don’t have anyone who would…
Women Garment Industry
News

Enforce Labor Laws, End Poor Working Conditions

(New York) – Pakistan’s government is failing to enforce laws that could protect millions of garment workers from serious labor rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 73-page report, “‘No Room to Bargain…
Garment workers making shirts at a factory in Karachi, Pakistan, February 2015.
Report
  Summary “Shabana,” a pseudonym, has been working for more than eight years at a Lahore garment factory with about 500 workers, manufacturing for a Pakistani brand. The conditions, she says, are harsh and there is always the risk of being…
Video
Pakistan’s government is failing to enforce laws that could protect millions of garment workers from serious labor rights abuses. Human Rights Watch documented a range of violations in Pakistan’s garment factories. They include a failure to pay minimum…