HRW report: Despite new laws, women and children continue to face violence in Pakistan

HRW report: Despite new laws, women and children continue to face violence in Pakistan

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A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) details the violence against women and children in Pakistan and lack of justice by authorities, despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s promise of making social justice a priority in the new year.

According to the report, women, children and transgender people continued to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities often failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable.

It is reported that though numerous cases of violence against women and girls highlighted the difficulty survivors face getting justice, authorities in the past year succeeded in enforcing some key reforms.

The 2020 report lauded key reforms that were enforced by the government – including laws to prosecute honor killings after the murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch. The parliament passed a law closing the pardon loophole that families used to protect offenders.

In July, the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that in cases of acid attacks, a mercy petition filed by the victim forgiving the perpetrator cannot be allowed because it constitutes “extreme cruelty.”

Increasing the rights of women in the agricultural sector, the Sindh cabinet also approved a new law demanding a written contract, minimum wage, welfare benefits and gender parity in wages, to women.

Early marriages, according to a UNICEF report, remained a serious problem with 21 per cent of girls in Pakistan marrying before the age of 18.

A number of women and girls were trafficked to China and sold as ‘brides.’

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice in August rejected a bill fixing the minimum age of marriage of girls to 18.

Citing early marriages, lack of schools and gender discrimination as the reason, over 5 million primary-school-age children are out of school.

According to figures released by NGO Sahil, more than 10 cases of child abuse are reported daily in Pakistan.

Despite being legally recognised as a third gender in a 2014 SC ruling, at least 65 transgender women have been killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) since 2015.

The report also mentioned a number of cases involving the murder of transgender persons in Pakistan, including the killing of a trans woman in Karak who was attacked on her way back from a music concert.

In July, two trans women were found tortured to death in Sahiwal. The following month, trans woman Honey was shot and killed in Manshera.

Activists say that authorities have not held the perpetrators accountable for their heinous

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