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Friday, June 14, 2024  
07 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Wife-beating and Transphobic violence ‘go up, not down in Ramzan’

We expect people to be calmer, but that is often not the case
A Pakistani woman holds a placard as she marches with other activists of the Progressive Women’s Association (PWA) during a demonstration near The Parliament House in Islamabad, 09 March 2004.  Some three hundred women took part in the demonstration demanding that the government put a halt to domestic and social violence commited aganist the women of Pakistan. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)
A Pakistani woman holds a placard as she marches with other activists of the Progressive Women’s Association (PWA) during a demonstration near The Parliament House in Islamabad, 09 March 2004. Some three hundred women took part in the demonstration demanding that the government put a halt to domestic and social violence commited aganist the women of Pakistan. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

There has been an uptick in domestic violence in Ramzan, experts have said, adding that we should also be talking about transgender victims.

“If there are 10 to 12 domestic violence cases coming in on usual days, there are around 15 during Ramzan,” according to Marvi Awan, who is the director of the Women Protection Cell in Sindh.

Awan was speaking about domestic violence on the Aaj News Baran-e-Rehmat show with Sidra Iqbal last week. There was an assumption that domestic violence would go down in Ramzan, but as Awan and guest Shahzadi Rai explained, this is not the case.

“Transgender people face an increase in verbal and physical abuse during Ramzan, especially those who live with their families,” said Shahzadi Rai, who is a violence case manager at the Gender Interactive Alliance. Families cut transgender people’s hair and force them to wear clothes of the family’s choice, for example. “They consider us infidels, and don’t even like seeing our faces in this month,” Rai told Aaj News later.

Awan later elaborated on the reasons for this increase in domestic violence in Ramzan. When women are unable to prepare fancy meals for iftar and sehri because of inflation, their abusive spouse has another excuse to hit them. Awan explained that just like road rage goes up in Ramzan, she feels that the increase in domestic violence stems from a similar aggression. We expect people to be calmer, but that is often not the case, she said.

Ninety percent of women have experienced some form of domestic abuse in Pakistan, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 2020. The provinces have laws against domestic violence but the federal ‘Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Bill 2020’ has not been passed yet due to objections from the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Shahzadi Rai added that the ‘Transgender Protection of Rights Act 2018’ is supposed to offer protection but transgender people are not able to file FIRs against abusive family members or partners, as it is extremely hard to stand up against one’s own family. The only time cases of abuse within a family become known to the police is when the victim has been murdered by their family in the name of ‘honor’.

Many cases go unreported. However, even when murderers are caught, they are not imprisoned as they get away by giving Diyat or blood money, as specified in the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860. In Islamic jurisprudence, the usual punishment for murder is Qisas, in which the criminal is given a death sentence or life imprisonment.

However, in cases where the victim and offender are from the same family, and certain conditions are met, the offender can escape the harsher Qisas punishment and just give Diyat money to the victim’s wali (heirs or the Government of Pakistan in case there is no heir). And so, Shahzadi Rai said, in such cases “the murderer is (the victim’s) brother and the forgiver is their father.”

The Transgender Protection of Rights Act 2018 is being debated in parliament and amendments are being proposed. Last year, on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, Sindh Moorat March was organized in Karachi by Shahzadi Rai and other transgender rights activists. The demands included keeping the law of Diyat out of the murder cases of transgender people and maintaining the Transgender Act 2018 in its original form.

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Domestic Violence

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