The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." (UN General Assembly 1993).
It is violence in private life that comprises domestic violence against women. Also called Intimate Partner Abuse and Family Violence, it is a global issue that cuts across all geographic, social, cultural and ethnic boundaries. But it was only in the last decade of the 20th century that it received recognition as a serious public health and human rights issue.
This paper aims to discuss domestic violence against women in Pakistan. It will focus on some specific types of domestic violence prevalent in Pakistan, the factors underlying them and a health and human rights analysis of the issue.
For the purpose of this paper, the term Domestic Violence is used as described in Innocenti Digest ( UNICEF, 2000) to include violence against women by an intimate partner and by other family members, whether this violence takes place within or outside the home.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the sixth most populated country in the world, is in South Asia. Its people and traditions reflect many diverse cultures. It is administratively divided into, four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Baluchistan, the federal capital Islamabad and seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Pakistan was the first Muslim country to have a woman Prime Minister and presently women hold 21% seats in the National Parliament, but the condition of the ordinary woman living here has remained poor. According to a UNDP report (2011) Pakistan ranks 115th out of a total of 151 countries on the Gender Inequality Index.
The life expectancy at birth for the population is 66 years, infant mortality is 62 per 1000 live births and the maternal mortality is 260 deaths per 100,000 live births ( UNDP 2011).
In addition to the globally prevalent forms of domestic violence , women in Pakistan also suffer from forms of violence carried out in the name of tradition, culture and religion.
Honour killing is an old tradition which involves a male member of the family killing a female relative if she is suspected of tarnishing the family’s honour. In most cases the executor is the husband, the father or a brother( Minallah and Durrani, 2009).
Stove burning is a form of dowry killing prevalent in the province of Punjab, mostly in the urban areas. Married women are burned by the husband or his family as a punishment for not providing a rich dowry, not producing a son, not allowing the husband another wife or as a result of long running disputes.
Acid throwing, particularly on the face, may be committed to avenge refusal of sexual...