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July 20, 2003 

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Thousands of women burnt to death

A Rawalpindi-based NGO's revelations about women victims of violence are horrifying. According to the data collected by it, some 5,000 women were burnt to death in the last five years by their husbands or in-laws in Rawalpindi-Islamabad and the adjoining areas alone. Revealing the gory details, the rights group's spokeswoman noted with shock and horror the latest method of torturing women to death by electrocution.
The situation in many other parts of the country is no better either. Considering the alarming number of women becoming victims of violence - harassment, physical abuse, selling of girls in marriages or offering them to adversaries as compensation to settle tribal disputes, rape, imprisonment under false charges of fornication, mutilation, acid throwing, burning, electrocution, honour killing - not enough is being done at any level - legal, social or political - to fight these evils and to safeguard women's rights, interests and, above all, their physical safety and well-being. The fact that their tormentors are seldom, if ever, brought to justice, makes it only more alarming.
Regressive social practices, rooted in tribal and feudal customs and traditions, coupled with an obscurantist interpretation of religious edicts, are the main hurdles in way of according women their due rights, status and protection.
The discriminatory Hudood, Qisas and Diyat Ordinances and the Law of Evidence are repressive in spirit and application and deserve to be repealed or suitably modified. Increased representation of women as legislatures now provides the right conditions and opportunity to get things moving on this very important front.

Source : Foundation for the Advancement of Community Education (FACE), Pakistan.

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