Anti-torture legislation in Pakistan needed to protect women
Speech given by Abbasi Nusrat Bano, a member of the Provincial Assembly, at the meeting of Asian Parliamentarians On Sunday afternoon, (July 22), Abbasi Nusrat Bano, a member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, delivered this speech to great applause as part of the Meeting of Asian Parliamentarians in the Asian Alliance against Torture and Ill-treatment. Eight Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as several prominent human rights activists participated in this four day meeting.
Dear friends and delegates from the different Asian countries.
I am thankful to Asian Human Rights Commission for inviting me to this conference on torture and ill-treatment and I am happy to represent the legislators from my province of Sindh.
Sindh is the first province in Pakistan that wished for independence from India and passed a resolution in favor of an independent Pakistan. The people of Sindh have remained at the vanguard defending democracy, rule of law and human rights. But with continuous interruptions from unconstitutional forces the dream of democracy and equal rights has not been fulfilled.
As a member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, I was honored to be named the third most active member of the Provincial Assembly. It is something that I and my party can be very proud of.
After this short introduction, I wil now focus on the bad practice of torture in my country. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees by law enforcement agencies is an endemic problem in Pakistan. In recent years, the perpetrators in most of the reported cases of torture and other ill-treatment are law enforcement agencies. Most often the torture and ill-treatment occurs in pre-trial detention centers.
In Pakistan, law enforcement officials perceive torture as the easiest and fastest way to achieve their goal of extracting information from the accused. Third degrees is commonly practiced at police stations, judicial lockups and in jails. If the accused is male torture is more likely to happen, but also Pakistani women face the worst forms of physical and psychological abuse from police officials. This abuse often takes place in the police stations.
From January 2000 to June 2009, 10.241cases of police torture against women were reported in Pakistan. Around 70 percent of the women in detention were subject to physical and sexual abuse by law enforcement officials. In Pakistan, women are not completely safe in jails. Even in shelter homes they are vulnerable. Most of the women in prisons and shelter homes are abused by the police – the very people who are supposed to protect them. Although there are more reported cases of custodial torture against men, women in Pakistan are very vulnerable to abuse by law enforcement agencies, because of a discriminatory society where women and men are not equal. (...)