Escalating Violence Against Women in Pakistan
Violence against women has been on the rise in Pakistan. According to the International Forum for Right and Security, women being assaulted under the guise of religious and traditional customs has been normalized under prime minister Imran Khan’s reign.
Inexplicable murders covered up as “suicides” occur all over Pakistan, including the Sindh region. A Sindhi student, Nimrita Kumari was found lifeless in her dorm room in 2019, and autopsy reports later on revealed that she was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.
Nosheen Kazmi, a medical student at the same school as Nimrita Kumari, was found dead last year under similar circumstances to Nimrita’s. The DNA found on Nosheen’s body matched the DNA that was found when investigating Nimrita’s corpse. Pakistani authorities stated that they would do everything in their power to solve these cases. Though critical voices believe that they ultimately failed to do so.
Aside from these unexplainable deaths, honor killings are also an issue in Pakistan. Around six years ago, social media star Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother. Three years after he was convicted of killing her for "bringing dishonor" to the family, he was freed by a Pakistani appeals court.
Cases of rape, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced conversions and marriages have been rising during the past few years. Simran Kumari, a Sindhi Hindu girl, was taken away from her family, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to her abductor Shakeel Kuri. An estimated 1,000 girls are abducted every year and converted to Islam, according to Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. Seven out of ten of those girls are younger than 18 years old.
A Thomson Reuters report states that Pakistan is the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women to live in.
The current Imran Khan regime has been doing little to change the situation for half of its population. Additionally, Pakistan’s leading party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, expressed its disapproval of the Aurat March, an annual demonstration held to mark the importance of International Women’s Day.
In the past, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has blamed women themselves for gender-based violence. During an interview with HBO, Khan said, “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact, it will have an impact on the men unless they are robots. I mean it is common sense.”
Concerns that have been raised around gender-based violence have gone essentially unheard in Pakistan under Khan’s leadership. For women in Sindh, forced conversions, abductions and murders are an ongoing reality and often go unpunished in the Pakistani legal system.
THE LONG WALK Documentary aims to raise awareness about these issues. Read more about the recent Pooja Kumari case on the Sindhi Foundation’s website.