LAHORE -  The government will set up special courts in all districts of Punjab to deal with cases related to violence against women.

The move comes after authorities observed a record number of cases of violence against women in southern Punjab in the last six months. Violence against women centres will also be established in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad districts following successful launch of the initiative in Multan.

Director General of Strategic Reforms Unit Salman Sufi told reporters on Tuesday that basic purpose of establishment of such centres was to provide relief to women victims of violence. Police officers, including DIG Waqar Abbasi and AIG Shazia Sarwar, were also present during the press conference at the offices of Directorate General of Public Relations.

“The women protection bill is not meant for family breakup. Actually, this law was introduced to ensure provision of timely justice to women,” Sufi said.

The head of Chief Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit said that victims of violence would be provided all possible legal assistance under one roof. The official described the “Violence against Women Centre” established in Multan as the first-ever centre in South Asia. He claimed that Multan VAWC showed wonderful results in last six months.

“At least 1143 cases were reported with the VAWC in Multan from March to September, this year. The centre successfully solved at least 952 cases within a short span of time,” he said. “Most of the cases were related to domestic violence. Out of total cases of violence against women some 68 percent were related to domestic violence.”

Salman Sufi also explained that at least 14 cases of physical torture, 13 of abduction, seven of mental torture, five of attempted rape, nine cases of dowry, and six cases of forced marriage were also reported with the Multan center in addition to domestic violence cases.

According to Sufi, the Multan centre during the previous six months also reported cases related to human trafficking, gang rape, child marriage, second marriage and robbery. A record number of cases related to violence against women was reported in southern Punjab during the six months and this be an eye-opener, he said. Therefore, the government is going to establish special courts in other districts to counter violence against women.  “The victims of violence are provided all possible help under one roof. After completion of all required procedure, their cases would be forwarded to special courts so that such women can be given immediate relief and prompt justice,” he said.  On instructions of the Punjab chief minister, such special centres would be established in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad. The centres will be established keeping in mind the reported cases of violence against women.

Responding to a question, Sufi said that buildings of Dar-ul-Aman would be converted into violence against women centres in Punjab districts. He said that some NGOs and local organisations were helping the government create awareness among the local population.