Lahore - Pakistan ended 2013 with a population of 182,589,000 people, which represents an increase of 3,428,889 people compared to 2012. The male population is about 92,019,313 representing 50.39pc of the total and Female population is 87,140,798 or 47.72pc women.

According to latest census which took place in 2009, 4pc of females are literate whereas 69pc of males are literate. Total 57pc of Pakistani population is literate. A survey of psychiatric outpatients at a private clinic in Karachi found that two thirds of the patients were females and 60pc of these females had a mood disorder. 70pc of them were victims of violence (domestic violence, assault) and 80pc had marital or family conflicts.

In Pakistan, there are cultural institutions, beliefs and practices that undermine women’s autonomy and contribute to gender-based violence. Marriage practices can disadvantage women, especially when customs such as dowry and bride’s price, Watta Satta and marriage to the Quran (a custom in Sindh where girls remain unmarried like nuns to retain family property in the family) exist. In recent years dowry has become the part of marriage. This increasing demand for dowry, both before and after marriage, can escalate into harassment, physical violence and emotional abuse. In extreme cases homicide or “stove-burns” and suicides can provide husbands an opportunity to pursue another marriage and consequently more dowry. Women constantly cite reasons to remain in abusive relationship: fear of retribution, lack of other means of economic support, concern for the children, emotional dependence, lack of support from family and friends and the abiding hope that the husband may change one day. In Pakistan divorce continues to be a taboo and the fear of social stigma prevents women from reaching out for help. About 70pc of abused women have never told anyone.

Honor killing is another form of familial violence against women in Pakistan.

Studies have found that unemployment increases the risk of depression, aggressiveness and violent behaviours which in turn can result in an increased risk of physical, and emotional abuse. As unemployment is one of the big problems in the country, it is one of the important determinants of the violence against women. Young girls see their mothers going through the same treatment and unknowingly adapt to the system.

World Health Organization (WHO) defines domestic violence as “the range of psychologically and physically coercive acts used against young and adolescent women by current or former male intimate partners.