EU parliamentarians raise concern over violence against women in Pakistan
Several Members of European Parliament (MEP) raised concern regarding cases of violence against women in Pakistan following a brutal motorway rape case in Lahore in September.
Several media outlets reported on the ‘motorway case’, where a woman was sexually assaulted in front of her children while waiting for assistance in her car on the highway in Lahore. The Lahore capital city police officer stoked controversy by victim-blaming the woman, causing an international outcry.
On Monday, the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Josep Borrell highlighted that the EU Head of Delegation to Pakistan condemned the specific case raised by the Honourable Members publicly on September 13, 2020, said EU Chronicle in a press release.
EU Chronicle stated in the release that on September 28, Members of the European Parliament Samira Rafaela, Karen Melchior, Abir Al-Sahlani, Radka Maxova, Sylvie Brunet, Irene Tolleret, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Hilde Vautmans, and Susana Solis Perez, all of the Renew Political Group, sent a parliamentary question to the VP/HR Josep Borrell.
The Parliamentarians asked Borrell whether he condemned the cases of sexual violence that happened in September 2020 in Pakistan and about the concrete actions he will be planning to take to ensure that any current and future plans to engage with Pakistan are based on the promotion of women’s rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
Lastly, the Renew representatives inquired about the steps the Commission and the VP/HR “will take to make all funding programmes for Pakistan conditional on progress in women’s rights by making gender mainstreaming one of its funding objectives?”
According to EU Chronicle, on November 16, Borrell officially responded on behalf of the European Commission.
He stated that ‘human rights, including women’s rights, are raised regularly in the EU’s bilateral dialogue with Pakistan’ and he also reported that the most recent exchange took place at the 6th EU-Pakistan Political Dialogue on 6 October 2020.
Borrell further elaborated that violence against women, including rape, was raised by the European Union in the Sub Group of Democracy, Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights to the 10th EU-Pakistan Joint Commission on November 13-14, 2019, adding that measures taken to prevent violence against women will be followed up in the 11th EU-Pakistan Joint Commission.
In his closing statements, Borrell stated that gender mainstreaming is integrated in the EU’s projects within Pakistan, including all rural development, education and government projects, and stated that ending violence against women and girls will remain high on the agenda in the next EU Gender Action Plan.
The Lahore incident heightened calls for action to address sexual violence in the country. The brutal incident came after a five-year-old in Karachi was raped and then set ablaze.
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