In the case of Pakistan, which ranks sixth on the list of the most dangerous countries for women, it is not possible to change gendered social norms regarding domestic violence by only focusing on legal reform, according to a recent report published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies.
“Women are subjected to violence that includes acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage and female infanticide,” said the report titled ‘Not accepting abuse as the norm: local forms of institutional reform to improve reporting on domestic violence in Punjab’ that is co-authored by Maryam Tanwir, Shailaja Fennell, Hafsah Rehman Lak and Salman Sufi.
The report looks at reforms in the Punjab province of Pakistan, where legal structural obstacles and discriminatory gender norms prevent women from accessing justice, reports Dawn news.
According to the report, despite the high number of cases relating to domestic violence that is more than one-third of all criminal cases, the conviction rate for violence against women is a mere one to 2.5 per cent of all registered cases.
“This dismally low conviction rate has been a further sense of distress for the victims, as some resorted to extreme measures such as setting themselves on fire to bring attention to their neglected cases,” it added.
According to Sufi, who introduced the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 and South Asia’s first Violence Against Women Centre, this was an evaluation-based design institutional intervention, mixed-methods research using qualitative insights and desk review was done, reported Dawn news.
“We conducted a two-year multi-stakeholder analysis of the existing case-flow process by examining the procedures involved in the registration of cases. A mixed-methods approach was adopted, comprising an analysis of the following sources of government data collected by different provincial agencies,” he told Dawn news.
This model, according to Sufi, will ease access to justice, allow for refuge, and the wearing of the tracker by the male assaulter will start a chain of shame in a severely gendered society.
“Through our extensive research, we identified the prime reasons which resulted in a low conviction rate of gender-based violence crimes. These include disconnected evidence collection; lack of sensitisation to gender-based violence issues; passing of moral judgments; and absenteeism of relevant personnel. Multan Violence Against Women Centre (VAWC) has inbuilt institutional reform aspects to address all these,” he said.