Population: 184 million (2010)
Religions: Islam 97% (Sunni approx. 77%, Shiite 20%); small groups of Hindus, Christians, Parsi, Buddhists and Bahá’ís.
Life expectancy: men 63 years, women 65 years (2011)
Literacy rate: men approx. 63%, women approx. 36%
Income inequality: Gini coefficient 0.306 (2007/08) *
Ranking on the Transparency International list of Corruption Perceptions in 183 countries:134 (2011) **
Ranking on the UNDP Human Development Index of 146 countries, taking gender equality into account: 115 (2011) ***
Maternal deaths: 376 deaths per l00,000 births.
Number of children/woman: 3.17 (estimate for 2011)
Abortion legislation: Abortion is not a legal right. Abortion is possible if the physical or mental health of the mother is at risk. Abortion is also possible during the first three months after rape, or if the foetus is deformed, or for social reasons. These exceptions are, however, applied restrictively. ( 2010)
Law against rape within marriage: No
Violence against women in close relationships: each year around 1,000 women are killed as a result of violence in the name of honour. Pakistan is the third most dangerous country in the world for women to live in.
* Gini coefficient:
An economic metric of inequality in a population, for example in income distribution. The Gini coefficient has a value of between 0 and 1, where 0 implies that the assets of all individuals are exactly the same (total equality) while 1 represents total inequality. The lower the Gini coefficient for income inequality, the greater the equality of distribution of salaries, profits, welfare benefits and other forms of compensation.
In 2011, Transparency International ranked 183 countries according to how widespread corruption was in the country. Position 1 on the list showed the country where corruption was least widespread, position 183 the greatest. Corruption within, for example, the police and justice systems has a marked influence on women’s lives.
Every year, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, measures human development in the world’s countries taking into account health, education and income, in the Human Development Index, HDI. In 2010 a new index was introduced: GII, Gender Inequality Index, which also takes gender equality into account. The countries are ranked from position 1 downwards.
Is there legislation in place which explicitly states that acts of violence committed against women by someone close to them which take place in private are against the law, and which imposes appropriate punishment on the perpetrator?
There are three different legal systems in Pakistan: secular law, Sharia law and tribal law. The secular laws are administered by secular courts while the Sharia laws, which should be adapted to the Koran, are handled in a separate system of courts. Many of the Sharia laws are extremely hostile to women. For example, a woman who has been raped must produce four male witnesses to the assault if she is to be believed.
The system of “compensation” in connection with violence in the name of honour , for example, means that someone who has killed in the name of honour can be “forgiven” by the woman’s family. Since most murders in the name of honour are committed within the family, the killer is very rarely held to account.
Trading women and girls in business dealings between families is not forbidden.
The secular laws which replaced certain Sharia laws (2004, 2009 and 2010) have given women greater protection against, for example, acid attacks, rape and harassment at work.
In February 2012 violence in the home became a criminal offence in Pakistan. À man who assaults his wife or children risks six months' imprisonment or a 1.000 dollar fine. Up until then, violence in the home was considered to be a private, family matter.
It is no longer possible for a man to divorce himself by uttering “talaaq” (“divorce”) on three occasions and in the presence of witnesses.
Is there a functioning, non-corrupt police force and judiciary which can pass sentence and enforce punishment within a reasonable period of time?
The police are corrupt and it is a well-known fact that they will release the perpetrator, lose or mislay evidence, and threaten witnesses, in exchange for payment. A woman of small means has little chance of obtaining justice.
It is hard for women to move around freely, for example to report a crime. And they generally have no money of their own to pay a lawyer or undertake their own investigation.
The general state of uncertainty in the country as a result of, among other things, terrorist attacks and flooding, means that the police and courts systems are currently operating even less effectively than normal.
Are there accessible and reliable statistics for the incidence of violence against women?
There are no reliable statistics. The most reliable figures we have found come from the voluntary organisations which make their own estimates based on information from newspapers and hospitals.
Is it possible for women to support themselves and their children, for example after divorce?
It is difficult, since women are not expected to live alone, and attempting to do so gives them a bad reputation. It is easier to work if you live in a family.
Women’s freedom of movement is restricted, by tradition. Many women are not even allowed to leave the home.
Well-educated women in the big cities can work even if they are divorced.
Are there shelters for women who want to leave a violent relationship?
There are state-run women’s shelters which offer protection.
The shelters are seen more as a prison for “bad women” where women are badly treated and kept locked up before the investigation and sentencing. A woman who has reported a rape, for example, runs the risk of herself being accused of violating her marriage vows.
Has the government explicitly expressed the will to fight the violence by means of public debate and various forms of preventive work, for example in the schools, the legal system and the healthcare system?
As far as we have been able to see, no such work is taking place, nor has the will to do so been expressed.
Are there any programmes to prevent the abuser from relapsing into violence?
We have not been able to find any such programmes.
Does society take the view that women are subordinate to men?
Pakistan is one of the worst countries in the world, from a woman’s perspective. According to the Thompson & Reuters Foundation’s review of the situation of women around the world in 2011, Pakistan is the third worst place.
Which direction is the fight to end the violence against women going in?
In some respects, developments are moving in the right direction. More and more women and girls are protesting against the strict rules under which they live, reporting assaults and discussing the situation openly. A few of these suffer as a result, but the majority survive – and change the world a little bit. At the same time, the traditional religious opposition forces are uniting, for example in an attempt to reintroduce Sharia law.