12/11/2020, 15.14
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Pandemic sparks rise in gender-based violence

by Shafique Khokhar

A forum is held in Karachi on Human Rights Day. The findings of a survey in 44 districts across Pakistan and across all groups are presented.


Karachi (AsiaNews) – The COVID-19 pandemic has increased gender discrimination and violence, this according to a forum held yesterday, Human Rights Day, in Karachi.

The findings of a study by the Ujala Program, Awaz Foundation and Rasti Pakistan took centre stage at the meeting.

With the support of 48 partners, the abovementioned organisations conducted a survey to examine gender-based violence in Pakistan during the pandemic.

The study covered 44 districts across Pakistan and all groups, including men, women, teenagers, children, people with disabilities, and the transgender community. About 455 responses were received from across the country.

Rasti Pakistan president Shazia Adnan told AsiaNews that she successfully collected data from people online as well as from home. The main findings are as follow:

Gender-based discrimination

About 48 per cent of all respondents stated that there is a subconscious rise in gender discrimination between girls and boys.


About 55.6 per cent of men and 64.1 per cent of women say they saw more violence, including psychological torture, malicious criticism, verbal abuse, beatings, and sexual violence.


About 35.8 per cent of respondents said that girls and women experienced more harassment, including 14.9 per cent of boys and 12.1 per cent of men respectively.

Behavioural changes

According to the research, 72.1 per cent of respondents said they saw aggression and irritation during COVID-19; 64 per cent saw negative behavioural changes among children. About 49.3 per cent of men and 49.1 per cent of women said they observed negative influence. Respondents noted differences in marital and sexual relationships.

Tips and recommendations

• The government must set up psychosocial counselling centres with qualified personnel.

• The government needs to fund more health services to ensure timely and quality services.

• During the pandemic, accessible health facilities must be guaranteed for all, especially pregnant women, before and after childbirth.

• The government must create an online portal where people can file their complaints about facilities and violence.

• Special digital and modern means of education should be adopted to meaningfully engage children.

• Both the government and civil society organisations need to educate people on issues related to behavioural change, psychological distress, and mental health.

Kashif Anthony, coordinator of the Catholic National Commission for Justice and Peace, spoke appreciatively about the Ujala program, the Awaz Foundation, Rasti Pakistan, and the other 48 partners. He also said that people must review and rethink their culture, beliefs and attitudes.

Human rights defender Zahid Farooq, from the Urban Resource Centre, said that people must educate their children, especially women who can bring about change in families and society.

Women who face intolerance and violence must teach their children how to behave and respect others and how to live.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), said the pandemic has affected all sectors of society from a medical, social, political and economic point of view.

In his view, exclusion, environmental degradation, poverty, inequality and discrimination based on religion, belief, gender and more are making society more vulnerable.

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