Women in Pakistan, China continue to face discrimination, violence: Pak human rights activist
A Pakistani human rights activist has said that women in Pakistan and China continue to face gender discrimination and sexual violence at home and at the workplace
In an article titled ‘Life of women in Pakistan and China’, Anila Gulzar, quoting a report by European Parliament, highlighted that Pakistan is ranked by the Global Gender Gap Index 2018 as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women and the second-worst in the world (ranked 148th) in terms of gender equality.
“Although Pakistani society discourages reporting, the NGO White Ribbon Pakistan reports that 47,034 women faced sexual violence, over 15,000 cases of honour crimes were registered, and more than 1,800 cases of domestic violence and over 5,500 kidnappings of women took place between 2004 and 2016,” the European Parliament’s report said.
It further said that the conviction rates in Pakistan remain low as among the reported cases only 2.5 per cent of accused have been convicted by courts.
“Women in Pakistan also face sexual harassment at the workplace, on the street and in the family by male family members,” said Gulzar.
The gap between male and female employees is the widest in the world, as per the data by the International Labour Organization. On average, women in Pakistan earn 34 per cent less than men.
As per Gulzar, there an estimated 2,000 dowry deaths per year in Pakistan.
“Married women are murdered or driven to commit suicide by their in-laws through continuous harassment and torture over disputes related to dowry,” she said.
“Besides, women from religious minority communities – Christian, Hindu or Sikh – face abduction, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage. According to a report by the United Nations, at least 1,000 women from minorities are abducted and forced into Islamic marriages in Pakistan each year,” said Gulzar.
According to a report by the Aurat Foundation based in Islamabad, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic between January and December last year, when people were forced to stay inside their homes, Pakistan reported 2,297 cases of violence against women from 25 districts across the country.
The research is based on a review of data on the incidents of violence against women collected from various newspapers in Pakistan, which was verified by local police in 25 selected districts.
The human rights activist further said that recently Pakistani women were traded in China as sex workers. “Chinese men marry young girls from poor families in Pakistan, and once they go to China, Pakistani bride is either sold off to the highest bidder or kept as a sex slave and domestic servant,” she said.
Meanwhile, China also faces gender inequality. Citing a report by South China Morning Post, Gulzar said gender discrimination against women jobseekers is prevalent.
Citing experts, the SCMP stated that nearly 85 per cent of Chinese female graduates had encountered at least one form of gender discrimination while job hunting and reports of domestic violence has increased by at least 50 per cent in the past year alone.
In workplaces too, the women face dominance of men due to China’s “hegemonic masculinity”.
“Hence, while in Pakistan the religion is used to suppress women, in China the totalitarian ideology curbs the civic rights of the female population,” Gulzar added.