Forced marriages: 53 cases reported in Peshawar last year, but actual numbers are much higher

Forced marriages: 53 cases reported in Peshawar last year, but actual numbers are much higher


Lack of will and absence of resources mean the state is unable to provide protection

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LAHORE/PESHAWAR (Web Desk/Dunya News) – A total of 53 forced marriage cases involving women and underage girls were reported in Peshawar during the last year, shows official figures, as the inhuman cultural practices mostly remain unchecked amid a strong support for anti-women sentiments in the society.

Forced marriages unfortunately remain a part of society as the practice is followed religiously in Pakistan in name of family honour despite various legislations introduced to arrest domestic violence and extend women rights across the country without any discrimination based upon caste and creed as well social status.

The reason behind the state failure to provide protection to more than half of our population is twofold: lack of will and absence of resources.

Lack of will means that the state isn’t ready to open support neither the girls nor the women in their quest for basic human rights and independence, fearing a social backlash.

The only solid state intervention to deal the serious issue was the Violence against Women Centre established by the PML-N government in 2017 in Multan – a facility that provides refuge and assistance to the victims under one roof.

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This ground-breaking initiative was supposed to expand across Punjab, but got stalled like other initiatives – mass transit and heath projects – taken by the then government, as the PTI shifted its focus to things like relocating the Taliban in the erstwhile tribal areas of Pakistan.

Another aspect that must be not forgotten that these social evils were here even before the rise of extremism, which didn’t introduce the norms aimed at the curbing the women freedom and restricting their movement.

However, extremism has certainly fuelled the support for harsh treatment towards women and girls at a time when they are trying their best to be an independent and productive member of society by joining the workforce.

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On the other hand, the existing state apparatus – including police and judiciary [at least the lower level] – also misses the required human resources and mindset that treat the women as equal humans, meaning that a victim may end up generating more problems, if she decides to “rebel”.

In fact, mental torture isn’t even considered torture. At the same time, many believe physical torture is a n inherent right of parents and husbands.


Police in Peshawar say action has been taken in 50 cases out of the total of 53, resulting in 53 arrests. Meanwhile, 35 of the victims were women and 18 underage girls.

At the same time, 16 women and 11 underage girls were shifted to shelter homes.

However, domestic violence, forced marriages and underage marriages are so rampant in Pakistan that only a few victims even attempt to report. Same is the case with honour killings as many are declared mere accidents or suicides.

The only way to protect the women from violence is to establish hotlines like we have in the developed world and a system which extend complete assistance to the victims.

But we already have a successful model in the shape of the centre established in Multan. The governments at the federal and provincial levels only need to show courage and extend the service across their respective jurisdictions.