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Pakistan failed to stem violence against women and minorities in 2020: Human Rights Watch

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan | Photo credit: IANS

New York: Human Rights Watch in its 2021 Global Report said the Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan stepped up its crackdown on the media, political opponents and civil society in 2020, while failing to stem violence against women and minorities.

The report mentions that the authorities have harassed and at times prosecuted human rights defenders and journalists for criticizing government policies. The government has also deployed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, to detain political opponents and government critics, including Dawn editor-in-chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, who was held without bail for six months.

“Pakistan’s relentless attacks on political opponents and free speech put the country on an increasingly dangerous path … Threatening opposition leaders, activists and journalists critical of the government is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime, not of a democracy, ”said Brad Adams, Asia. director at Human Rights Watch.

Additionally, the report highlights the escalation of violence against Pakistan’s Ahmadi community in 2020, with at least four Ahmadis killed for suspected incidents of blasphemy. He also noted that the government had not amended or repealed the provisions of the blasphemy law, which led to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions and provided a “pretext for violence” against religious minorities.

Several prominent women journalists released a statement in August condemning the< campagne bien définie et coordonnée >> attacks on social media, including death and rape threats, against women journalists and commentators whose views and reports have criticized the government. .

In September, a Lahore police chief made a public statement suggesting that a woman, who was gang-raped on a highway in Punjab, was herself at fault because she should not have “traveled. without her husband’s permission ”on a highway late at night.

Additionally, data from domestic violence helplines across Pakistan indicated that domestic violence cases increased 200% from January to March 2020 and worsened further during Covid-19 lockdowns after March. Partial or complete lockdown of Covid-19 to prevent the spread of infection has also had a disproportionate effect on women workers, especially homeworkers and domestic workers.

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