Every year the HRCP international and local interns embark on different quests to look for answers. Their researches not only help them learn about the state of affairs of human rights in Pakistan, but help them gain insight on a wider spectrum. Their work is also helpful for us and others who come across it. Following is a concise trend analysis on human rights violations observed over the 2005-2006 time period, done by Aleyha Ahmed, one of our international interns for the year 2007.
Important: The numbers available in our database, compiled through an extensive nationwide network, are still covering a fraction of the actual incidents due to lack of reporting, incomplete information, and a culture of concealment and non-reporting - the last two reasons stem from a fear of dishonour, retribution, threats and lack of information – indicating that the numbers are far higher.
Trend Analysis of Human Rights Violations- 2005 & 2006
Report By Aleyha Ahmed, HRCP Intern 2007
The Human Rights Commission Pakistan compiles data of alleged human rights violations that are brought to its attention. Increasingly, it is clear that, through an improvement in awareness, more reports are being filed. However, there are a vast number of cases that are not reported and therefore go unrecorded. In addition to this, a large number of cases that are, in fact filed, lack information fundamental to analysing trends in violations against the minorities that are characteristically involved. This, in turn, not only means the number of cases per year appears significantly reduced, but also that some trends may not be as apparent as anticipated.
Overall there has been a substantial increase in human rights violations from 2005 to 2006. Although, in part, this growth in reported cases can be accredited to an increase in consciousness-raising in the community, it cannot be ignored that the steep increment on which violations have risen is a clear sign that figures in fundamental human rights violations are growing and in some cases, at an almost exponential rate. This trend analysis will outline the various patterns that have formed over the past couple of years and the relative variations in these patterns that have been documented. The data has been collected from 1st January to 31st December in both 2005 and 2006. The areas of human rights violations studied in this report include `Killings’, `Rape, Attempted Rape & Sexual Harassment’, `Kidnappings’, `Domestic Violence’, `Burnings’ and `Suicide & Attempted Suicide’. Due to the considerable increase in violations from 2005 to 2006, percentage ratios have been taken, where appropriate, in order to analyse, more consistently, specific trends within categories. When taking percentage ratios, the NA section (unknown data) has been omitted.
Killing, Honour Killing, Murder
2006 `Killings’ statistics show a 29% increase in cases since 2005. The three primary headings in killings include `Honour Killing’ (killing to reclaim honour), `Karo Kari’ (killing due to suspicion of adultery) and finally `Murder’ that is not committed for the aforementioned reasons. Statistically, the category of `Murder’ typically contains the highest number of victims. However, this type of killing is also more likely to be reported than killing for honour or karo kari. In 2006, killings to reclaim honour increased by 24% from 2005. The primary victims of killings in general are women and the percentage of women killed in both 2005 and 2006 remained constant at 91% of all victims. The majority of these women are married (2005- 88.6%; 2006-86.3%) and the most common relationship of the accused to the victim is marital. In 2005, 296 husbands were accused of killing their wives and in 2006 this figure escalated to 355. The most reported reason for killings in both 2005 and 2006 was illicit relationships. Whereas this bracket remained constant in both years, killings due to property disputes increased almost twofold in 2006, from 9 in 2005 to 19 in 2006. The murder weapons most commonly used in both 2005 and 2006 were firearms, with a 22.6% increase in the use of these weapons in 2006. Unfortunately, the percentage of the accused that were arrested in 2006 decreased by 4.5% from 2005.
Sexual Harassment, Rape, Gang Rape
Rape continues to be one of the most taboo human rights violations and is therefore the least reported both in the news and to the HRCP. The statistics do not therefore reflect as categorically, the number of rapes, attempted rapes and sexual harassment cases that occur, which is considerably higher. 2006 saw a 129% increase in the number of rape and gang rape cases reported. In 2006 the number of cases of rape involving minors alone as the victims had more than doubled since 2005 from 111 to 293. In 2006, married women continued to be the most targeted social group in the rape statistics. However, the percentage of women raped that were married in relation to those that were `unmarried, widowed or divorced’ was reduced this year from 81% in 2005 to 60% in 2006. What is perhaps most alarming in these statistics, is that the accused in the rape cases are predominantly influential people in the community or landlords with the highest number of rapists in both 2005 and 2006, residents of the victim’s community.
Like rape cases, kidnappings also almost doubled from 633 in 2005 to 1113 in 2006. The four most common relationships between the victim and the accused in both 2005 and 2006 were `acquaintance’, `local resident’, `neighbour’ and `close-relative’. However, what is most alarming is that the numbers of close-relatives that have been involved in kidnappings have more than doubled from 27 in 2005 to 57 in 2006. The increase in kidnappings post 11th September 2001 has been considerable. A number of these have been linked to the government, who has allegedly been kidnapping `suspected terrorists’ and causing `forced disappearances’ in the community. In addition to this, there has been a rise in religious kidnappings; that is to say, the kidnapping of religious minorities for the forced conversion from Christianity and Hinduism to Islam. The majority of those kidnapped from religious minorities are young women below the age of consent, who are then married off to older Muslim men. It is nonetheless shocking that the majority of those kidnapped in both 2005 and 2006 are minors. On the plus side, however, the relative ratio of minors to adults has decreased from 69% in 2005 to 64% in 2006.
Domestic violence cases have also increased in 2006. The figures are primarily dominated by cases of husbands physically abusing their wives, triggered off by domestic disputes. 2005 and 2006 saw 63% and 60% respectively of the accused, husbands of the victims. The percentage of `married female’ victims compared to unmarried, involved in domestic violence cases in 2005 and 2006 remained the same, at approximately 98%. In 2005, there were 58 known domestic violence cases and in 2006 this number increased to 78. The most common physical results of these conflicts in both 2005 and 2006 were injuries inflicted on the wives, 47% and 41% respectively, with the most common reason for the disputes, `domestic’ matters.
Burning, Stove-death, Acid-throwing
In Pakistan, the majority of `Burnings’ reported are filed as accidental. In 2005, 58% of burnings were accidental and in 2006 this figure decreased to 47.6% while domestic and matrimonial reasons for burnings increased from 21 cases to 25. The most common reason for accidental burning is stove related. Disturbingly, all victims of accidental and non-accidental burnings in 2005 were women and all, bar two, were women in 2006, the majority of which was, once again, married. In both 2005 and 2006 the number of victims of burns cases remained practically constant with 109 in 2005 and 113 in 2006. Although the number of accidental burnings remained stable, deliberate burnings almost doubled from 2005 to 2006. Cases of `acid thrown’ on victims more than doubled from 2005 to 2006 with 10 victims in 2005 and 22 in 2006 and the number of victims `set-on-fire’ increased by 65.3%. Finally, in 2005 the three most common reasons for burnings were `set on fire’, `stove-related’ and `heaters’. In 2006, however, `acid thrown’ became the third most common reason after `set on fire’ and `stove-related’. As killings for honour have increased in 2006, acid throwing incidents seem to be increasingly popular as a method to reclaim honour. As in other death statistics, the most common relationship of the victim to the accused is marital. In 2005, the percentage of husbands that threw acid on their wives was 48% and this figure increased to 66.7% in 2006.
Suicides and attempted suicide cases increased from 2712 in 2005 to 3919 in 2006. A 44.5% increase was seen between the two years. A significant increase in minorities’ suicides has been reported in 2006. In 2005, 12 Christians and 8 Hindus attempted or committed suicide. In 2006, however, 24 Christian and 25 Hindu attempted and successful suicide cases were reported. This, therefore, shows a 145% increase in suicides and attempted suicides among minorities reported in 2006. The 3 main reasons for these attempted and completed suicides in 2005 were 1) Domestic Problems, 2) Admonishment and 3) Unemployment. In 2006, however, Unemployment became the second most common reason and Admonishment the third. Although in other categories, women are the primary victims of physical violence, the statistics even out drastically when investigating suicides. There are, in fact, a much greater number of men ending their lives than women. In 2005, 52 % more men than women committed or attempted to commit suicide. 1017 women compared to a staggering 1687 men committed or attempted to commit suicide. In 2006, 1502 women compared to 2398 men committed or attempted to commit suicide. The method used would naturally involve what is most readily available. As it is predominantly the lower classes that commit suicide due to social and economic pressures, the method generally used to commit suicide is poisoning with pesticides and 1473 people committed suicide in 2005 and 1811 in 2006. Although the majority of those who commit suicide or attempt to are adults, there has been a substantial increase in minors that are committing suicide. In 2005, this figure was 178 and in 2006 it had risen by 39.9% to 249 minors. We can clearly see the growing pressures that our youth is faced with reflected in these dramatic statistics.
There are three primary trends that can be identified in this analysis. Firstly, the study has shown that the group most susceptible to physical abuse is married women. Secondly, more often than not, the alleged abuser in any human rights violation case is a close relation of the victim or someone with whom they are acquainted. Finally, there has been a vast increase of suicide and attempted suicide cases that have involved minors in the past two years. This reveals a marked increase in the instability of the lives of the Pakistani youth and the added pressures they are subjected to on a daily basis.