Pakistan: Domestic violence, including effectiveness of the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act, 2006; state protection and services available to victims. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada; 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Sources indicate that domestic violence in Pakistan is a "serious problem" (US 24 May 2012, 1; Human Rights WatchJan. 2012). Sources report on several forms of domestic violence, including torture (US 24 May 2012, 42; WEWA 18 Dec. 2012), forced marriages (ibid. 9 Dec. 2012; AHRC 25 Nov. 2011), physical disfigurement (US 24 May 2012, 42), amputation (HRCP 2012, 166), the denial of food (AHRC 25 Nov. 2011), rape (ibid.; WEWA 9 Dec, 2012), and shaving hair and eyebrows (US 24 May 2012, 42).

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) indicates that perpetrators of domestic violence can be the victim's husband, or men or women in the victim's family or her husband's family (25 Nov. 2011). The US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 states that in-laws have abused and harassed the wives of their sons (US 24 May 2012, 43).

The AHRC states that victims are often stigmatized and blamed for the gender-based violence that they have experienced, and have often been labelled as the "false accuser" (2012, Sec. J.3). The AHRC adds that when a woman is beaten, society portrays it as being because the woman cannot take care of her husband's needs (25 Nov. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Simmons BA. Mobilizing for Human Rights International Law in Domestic Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2009 pp. Chapter 3. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

This volume argues that international human rights law has made a positive contribution to the realization of human rights in much of the world. Although governments sometimes ratify human rights treaties, gambling that they will experience little pressure to comply with them, this is not typically the case. Focusing on rights stakeholders rather than the United Nations or state pressure, Beth Simmons demonstrates through a combination of statistical analyses and case studies that the ratification of treaties leads to better rights practices on average. By several measures, civil and political rights, women’s rights, a right not to be tortured in government detention, and children’s rights improve, especially in the very large heterogeneous set of countries that are neither stable autocracies nor stable democracies. Simmons argues that international human rights law should get more practical and rhetorical support from the international community as a supplement to broader efforts to address conflict, development, and democratization.

Interpretation of Torture in the Light of the Practice and Jurisprudence of International Bodies. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture [Internet]. 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Many acts, conducts or events may be viewed as torture in certain circumstances, while they will not be viewed as torture in some other situations. In fact, there is no single definition existing under international law but most international dispositions and bodies tend to agree on four constitutive elements of torture, as further explained in the first part of this paper “Elements of definition”. It should be recalled that usually in legal dispositions, torture is linked with cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment or ill-treatment. Torture is not an act in itself, or specific type of acts, but it is the legal qualification of an event or behaviour, based on the comprehensive assessment of this event or behaviour. Therefore, the difference between these different qualifications, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment or ill-treatment depends on the specific circumstances of each case and is not always obvious. It is clear that, because of the specific intensity or nature of certain acts, the qualification of torture may be easily granted in certain cases. However, in some others, the vulnerability of the victim (age, gender, status, etc), as well as the environment and the cumulative effect of various factors, should be taken into account to determine whether this case amounts to torture or whether it does not reach this ultimate threshold and should be considered as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

"We'll kill you if you cry" - Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict. Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch; 2003. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Throughout the armed conflict in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001, thousands of women and girls of all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual violence, including individual and gang rape, and rape with objects such as weapons, firewood, umbrellas, and pestles. Rape was perpetrated by both sides, but mostly by the rebel forces. These crimes of sexual violence were generally characterized by extraordinary brutality and frequently preceded or followed by other egregious human rights abuses against the victim, her family, and her community. Although the rebels raped indiscriminately irrespective of age, they targeted young women and girls whom they thought were virgins. Many of these younger victims did not survive these crimes of sexual violence. Adult women were also raped so violently that they sometimes bled to death or suffered from tearing in the genital area, causing long-term incontinence and severe infections. Many victims who were pregnant at the time of rape miscarried as a result of the sexual violence they were subjected to, and numerous women had their babies torn out of their uterus as rebels placed bets on the sex of the unborn child.