WOMEN IN PAKISTAN
DISADVANTAGED AND DENIED THEIR RIGHTS
Women in Pakistan suffer widespread human rights violations. Police officers torture and rape women in their custody with impunity. If the victims bring complaints of rape before the courts, unless they can prove that they did not give their consent they may be punished for unlawful sexual intercourse under laws which explicitly discriminate against women. Women face cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments such as floggings and stoning to death. The discrimination against women in law reinforces their vulnerability to other human rights violations. Women's rights are seen as being of secondary importance and ...view middle of the document...
Hundreds of women are imprisoned under the Zina Ordinance at any one time, and Amnesty International considers some of them to be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned because of their gender.
These human rights violations are committed in a society where women are disadvantaged in many areas. They have less access than men to education, food and health care. They are grossly under-represented politically and consequently their concerns are rarely taken into account in policy and law-making. Women suffer a high level of domestic violence and the tribal system of retribution which persists in many part of the country exposes them to cruel treatment and even death. Women are sold into prostitution and as bonded labourers. All these abuses are well documented, yet successive governments have done nothing to prevent them.
The government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has taken some measures to ameliorate the lot of women. It has established some police stations entirely staffed by women, appointed some women to high positions within the judiciary and set up a number of commissions to assess which laws discriminate against women. The 1993 pre-election promises of the Pakistan People's Party, now in power, included amending or repealing laws which discriminate against women, greater political participation by women and ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. However, little has been done to implement these promises. Amnesty International urges the Government of Pakistan to implement the recommendations set out in this report to ensure that women's rights are respected.
Amnesty International campaigns for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience — people detained for their beliefs, or because of their ethnic origin, sex, colour, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth or other status, provided they have not used or advocated violence. Amnesty International works to oppose unfair political trials, torture, "disappearances", the death penalty, extrajudicial executions and other forms of arbitrary killings. Amnesty International also calls on governments to promote and protect the full range of human rights enshrined in international standards, including the rights of women.
2. BACKGROUND: WOMEN IN PAKISTAN
Women in Pakistan are disadvantaged from the moment they are born. The birth of a girl is frequently met with disappointment, even anger, and the blame is usually placed on the mother. As a rule, the girl child receives less food, less access to education and less health care. As a result girls are more likely to die of childhood diseases. There are only 91 females to every 100 males in Pakistan, according to 1991 estimates.
Investment in girls' education and skill development is meagre. As one women's organization put it:
"the girl is a liability; at an early age the girl child is made aware that she is only a temporary member...