LAHORE  - The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has voiced alarm over increasing violence against women in Pakistan.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Commission said: “The HRCP has watched with grave concern the rising incidence of violence against women in Pakistan in recent days. Unfortunately, such incidents have always been commonplace in the country but now such reports are coming not from far-off places but from the main cities. Several cases of rape have been reported from Punjab in the past few days, including that of the five-year old child.”

To give a scale of the problem, in the city of Lahore alone, police had registered 113 cases of rape from January 1 to August 31 this year. Over the same period, police in the provincial capital had registered 32 gang-rape cases, it added. “The problem is not restricted to Punjab. The plight of Kainat Soomro, a young rape victim in Sindh, and the excesses she has had to endure in her efforts to bring her tormentors to justice are there for all to see. Her ordeal represents how rape victims who have the courage to pursue their rapists are left to fend for themselves.” 

The HRCP calls upon the authorities to include ending violence against women and impunity for the violators to its list of priorities to do justice by half the population of the country.  It hopes that these steps would include awareness raising and would not merely be confined to making changes in laws that then remain unenforced.  The body also hopes that some meaningful steps would be taken to ensure a safe working environment for journalists and human rights defenders.