Cases of violence against women in Punjab have increased by 12 percent, according to Punjab Commission on the Status of Women report.
The Punjab Gender Parity Report 2017 states that about 7,313 cases of violence against women (VAW) were reported in 2016, as compared to 6,5050 cases in 2015 and 5,967 in 2014.
“A percentage increase of 12.4% in the last year in a continuation of the unfortunate trend observed over the past four years, with 2016 seeing the highest percentage increase in four years,” said the report.
However, the report mentions that it is important to bear in mind that the number of actual incidents of VAW in Punjab may be much higher.
In 2016, the highest numbers of reported cases were recorded in Rahim Yar Khan, Vehari and Muzaffargarh with 636, 615, 550 respectively. On the other hand, the lowest number of reported cases in 2016 was Mianwali, Narowal and Chakwal with 36, 27 and 18 respectively.
Analysing the facts, the reports reasons that the “increase in the actual numbers of incidents of violence, or because more crimes are now being reported as a result of post 2000 pro-women laws, increased media influence and other factors related to the level of education/awareness among female survivors of violence.”
What constitutes violence against women?
The report also states that violence against women "refers to widespread patterns of violent acts, discriminatory practices and local customs that exist, and operate, to the exclusive detriment of women, girls and female infants within a given society.”
"The experience of violence may, among other things, lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depressive/dissociative episodes, lowered self-esteem, decreased life potential, personality changes, physical injury, loss of life (in case of suicide or homicide), social ostracization, and effects of stigmatization on overall mental well-being,” states the report.
The report also focuses on 13 types of crimes categorised as violence against women by the office of Inspector General of Police, Punjab. These crimes include rape, murder, beating, gang rape, honour killing, burning/acid, incest, burning/stove, custodial rape, wani, physical, psychological, sexual harassment and others.
17% increase in rape cases
The report noted that there has been a 17% increase in the reported cases of rape. In 2016, the number of reported cases of rape was 3,162, while it was 2,702 in 2015,
The highest number of cases of rape were reported in Faisalabad, Muzaffargarh and Lahore with 254, 226 and 201 cases respectively.
The lowest number of cases were reported in Chakwal, Mianwali and Jhelum with four, 10 and 12 respectively.
28% increase in cases of honour killing
The cases of honour killing witnessed a 28% increase from 173 in 2015 to 222 in 2016, said the report.
The highest number of cases were reported from Faisalabad, Rajanpur and Kasur with 32, 20 and 14 respectively.
Kidnapping: Highest reported crime against women
The report revealed that "kidnapping/abduction constitute the highest reported crime against women and girls in Punjab." It also mentioned that abduction did not include human trafficking.
In 2016, there were 13,310 reported cases of kidnapping and abduction, of which 10,156 (76%) were of women/girls and 3,163 (24%) of men.
The report also said that a possible reason for high level of kidnapping could be forced prostitution.
Interestingly, the highest kidnapping cases were reported in Lahore, with 2,194 women kidnapped in 2016. On the other hand, the lowest number of kidnappings were reported in Rajanpur, with nine women kidnapped last year.