Again, Pakistan is a major beneficiary of U.S. aid. We have leverage we are not using to defend the most minimal standards of human rights. More on this story. “Minority women in Pakistan face harassment: Study,” from the Indo-Asian News Service, March 16 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Around 74 percent of Pakistani women from minority communities — Christians and Hindus — were sexually harassed, while 43 percent faced religious discrimination at workplaces in 2010 and 2011, a study said.
Around 27 percent of minority women faced discrimination in admission to educational institutions and were forced to take Islamic studies for absence of any alternative subject, said National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) executive director Peter Jacob.
A study titled “Life on the Margins” conducted by the commission with rights activists, media and people from various walks of life has just been released.
The research, based on interviews with minority women, was led by Jennifer Jag Jivan and Jacob and assessed by three prominent minority women, Asiya Nasir, Ernestine C. Pinto and Pushpa Kumari.
Jacob said the study looked into social, political and economic conditions of minority women with a baseline survey conducted in 26 districts of Punjab and Sindh, the two provinces where 95 percent of minorities in the country lived.
As many as 1,000 Hindu and Christian women were interviewed.
The study looked into issues such as legal disparity, laws concerning minorities, religious and gender biases, forced conversions that affected everyday life of minority women.
During the study, it was found that only 47 percent of minority women were educated, lower than the national average — 57 percent.
He said the living and economic conditions of women, assessed through income, savings, health and education placed minority women on the margins of social and economic development.
Though 55 percent of minority women saw the social environment as conducive to multi-religious living, around 62 percent of respondents were of the view that in the wake of a religious disturbance, a majority of people would not stand with them.
The study while noting the discrimination related to the Constitution of Pakistan, blasphemy laws and education policy, has recommended policy corrections and safeguarding women’s rights.
The blasphemy law is inherently abusive and inherently defective; no “reform” can fix an unjust law except repealing it. Attempts to legislate for the protection of women’s rights come up against protestations in the name of Sharia.