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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Aug 30, 2014

Research seminar: Financial pressures cited as major trigger of domestic violence

ISLAMABAD: In Pakistan,
victims of gender-based violence (GBV) are overwhelmingly women; they
are shown no mercy, not even when pregnant. Findings of a study shared
at a seminar on Friday here found economic and financial pressures as
factors triggering domestic disputes, which escalated into violence.

Since the inception of the country, successive governments, both
military and democratic have made tall claims regarding women
empowerment, but the issue of maternal health and GBV continues to get

A qualitative research study titled “Maternal health and domestic
violence: Impact of personal and social factors”, paints a gloomy
picture of the situation of domestic violence in the country, which is
recognised yet gets suppressed due to lack of awareness of women rights
among the perpetrators and as well as the victims.

The seminar was held at the National Commission on the Status of
Women (NSCW)’s office in collaboration with Sustainable Development
Policy Institute (SDPI).

The study was conducted by the Research and Development Solutions and
Rutgers-World Population Foundation (WPF), Pakistan aimed at exploring
patterns of GBV in Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Kashmore, Jacobabad,
Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts.

A total of 48 focus group discussions and 120 interviews were conducted during the study.

No evidence was found during the survey that pregnancy altered the incidence or patterns of violence against women.

The study said that a woman had to suffer both frequent physical
violence and abuse when her family finds out through ultrasound
examination that the fetus was female.

The research said that that happened especially if there were already many girls and no boy in the family.

The study found that such violence on a pregnant woman and fetus
resulted in stillbirths, prematurity, growth retardation after birth and
lifelong mental and physical weakness of babies born under such violent

“There is a need to create awareness among public, especially among
men about care that a woman needs during nine months of pregnancy,” said
Executive Director (ED) Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
Abid Suleri.

Talking to The Express Tribune, he said that an expecting
mother not only needed supplements or medicines but also required equal
dose of love, care and peace.

“There is no need of funds or a political commitment to create such
environment, all it requires is social and change in behaviour,” Suleri


“Currently there is no national data available in the country, which
could give a clear picture of how many women in Pakistan fall victim of
various forms of violence everyday and which violence is most common and
needed to be addressed first,” said National Commission on the Status
of Women (NSCW) Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz.

Talking to The Express Tribune after the seminar, she said
that one of the major reasons why the issue was still unaddressed was
the unavailability of data. “It is not easy to formulate a policy or
legislate without having a baseline on the subject,” said Mumtaz.

She further said that the lack of implementation of existing
pro-women laws also played a major role in creating hurdles in the way
of women empowerment.

NCSW is planning to carry out a nationwide survey on violence against
women, for which it is trying to get financial support from donor
agencies, Mumtaz said. She said, “It is a fact that many international,
national and local NGOs are working for this cause but they are
restricted to few areas.”


Rutgers WPF, Pakistan Manager Programmes Aftab Awan said that the
study revealed violence during pregnancy did not decrease. “All forms of
violence against women need to be criminalised and should be made a
community issue,” he suggested.

The research recommends uplifting economic status of women, making
primary and secondary education a priority, communication between
husband and wife regarding reproductive health and other matters related
to pregnancies.

For mass social change the study recommends economic rehabilitation
of abused women. To protect women from domestic violence, existing laws
need to be effectively implemented and GBV needs to be a punishable
crime at the federal level. Recommendations included banning traditional
practices promoting domestic violence such as early and forced

Human Rights and Gender of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan
Development Advisor Zoe Leffler suggested running an awareness campaign
in the county backed by the government to make people think and talk
about the issues being faced by pregnant women.

Source :