It was reported on Wednesday that Asif Saeed Khosa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, announced that the country will set up 1,016 special courts dedicated to addressing violence against women. There will be at least one special court in each district in Pakistan.
This new system of courts will allow victims to speak on matters of gender-based violence without fear of retaliation. While the hearings will take place in regular courthouses, they will be conducted separately from other cases. The atmosphere of the courts will be different, enabling complainants to speak without fear.
Both a Human Rights Watch report and a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey have noted the high levels of violence women in Pakistan face. Limited access to economic, educational, and civic resources and religious and cultural practices make women particularly vulnerable, to rape, forced marriage, honor killings, domestic violence, and acid attacks. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan published in their 2018 report that there were at a minimum 845 incidents of sexual violence against women and another 316 crimes in the name of honor committed against both men and women. Stigma and fear of reprisals make documenting such crimes difficult, especially in rural areas.
Women’s rights activists have increased their activities in recent years, and the new system of courts seeks to address growing concerns about gender-based violence in Pakistan.