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Futures without Violence: Understanding Violence for Pakistani Women

Futures without Violence: Understanding Violence for Pakistani Women

Although Pakistan has committed to many international conventions and charters to prevent Gender-Based Violence (GBV), no formal institution recognizes domestic violence as a crime and hence few systems are available for the victims. GBV adversely affects the reproductive and general health of women, affects the fetus and often results in miscarriages, and also physical and/or mental disability in mothers and children.

In a ground-breaking survey by Rutgers World Population Foundation (WPF) in 2011, 84% of the participants had suffered from domestic violence at some point in their life. Of these, 63% had never sought health care for the injuries sustained.

Methodology: A qualitative study was based on the findings from the Rutgers WPF 2011 study targeting six districts across Pakistan. A study tool was developed to understand factors that led to, condoned and perpetuated GBV at the personal, household and community levels. At the personal level, we studied women’s acceptance of domestic violence, patriarchy, hierarchy between wives and autonomy in decision making. All married women of reproductive age and married men who could have children were eligible for recruitment.

Results: The research study revealed that reported victims of GBV were always women and the violence manifested itself in the form of slapping, kicking, stepping, pushing or hitting with sticks. The outbursts were attributed to poverty, education and mutual respect for each other, family structure and power relations, number of children, alcohol, unwanted intercourse during marriage, preference of male child, exchange marriages and property or land disputes. When inquired on the traits of a household that was free from GBV, the participants attributed them to idealistic pictures of gender roles.

Conclusions: Despite high level of societal awareness and condemnation of violence, we found that GBV remains ever present even during pregnancy and continues to endanger maternal health and wellbeing throughout a woman’s reproductive years.

Speakers: Qadeer Baig
Conference: WAS Singapore 2015