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Walter Rodgers

US should cut aid to Pakistan for its 'War of Terror' on women

To push Pakistan's improved cooperation in fighting terrorists, the US has suspended millions in military aid. Will it also have the spine to cut aid over Pakistan’s abhorrent treatment of women?

By Walter Rodgers / July 13, 2011

To push Pakistan toward more cooperation in fighting terrorists, the United States has suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. Will it also have the spine to cut aid over Pakistan’s abhorrent treatment of women?

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The fact remains that Pakistan has long been a country that collectively wages a war of terror against 49 percent of its own population: against its wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Yet outsiders scarcely hear a whimper about this story.

Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, honor crimes, abuse, and discrimination against women remain serious problems in Pakistan. TrustLaw, an organization that provides legal aid and information on women’s rights, ranks Pakistan as the third most dangerous country for women (behind Congo and Afghanistan). If successive US administrations and Congress don’t use more muscle against these criminal human rights violations, it is because they don’t want to.

Sexual assault is so common it’s not reported

Recently an elderly Pakistani woman was forcibly paraded naked through a Punjab village. The reason? The woman’s grown son was having an adulterous relationship.

According to the latest Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Report, 3,000 women were raped in 2010 and 791 murdered in so-called “honor killings.”

Azra Rashid, a Canadian-Pakistani women’s rights activist, says those numbers are grossly underestimated. “Sexual assault is so common women don’t even report it. Girls grow up not even knowing it’s sexual assault when they are touched inappropriately.” Ms. Rashid says as a young girl she was often groped and fondled going to the market.

Why don’t Pakistani women report these crimes to police? Not long ago, one young Pakistani woman and her sister went to a police station to report a missing brother. The two girls were detained and repeatedly gang-raped by the police.

Rashid says, “At best Pakistani police don’t believe rape victims, the politicians don’t care, and Pakistanis have come to accept this as part of their daily reality.”

A leading Pakistani politician was recently quoted as saying if a woman is raped, and she can’t bring four independent witnesses who saw the act, she should not bother to report it. This, despite the fact that the law no longer requires four witnesses to prove rape. Pakistan has improved its laws protecting women in recent years, but lack of enforcement and entrenched attitudes block progress.


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