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November 18, 2004

Suffering in silence

Incidents of harassment and molestation are being reported at workplaces, public venues and universities from all over the country, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Sexual harassment is a problem in both villages and cities

Its figures show that this year between January and August, 175 women including 24 minors were gang raped and 225 were raped, of which 38 were minors.

Ten women were stripped naked publicly - a practice sometimes used to punish women considered to have brought shame on their communities.

These are the forms of extreme sexual abuse. Most cases of sexual harassment go unreported - but some figures suggest cases are increasing.

For example, in 2002, 12 women were stripped in public places - in 2003, the number rose to 40.

Combating the problem is difficult. Women don't want to discuss these issues. They prefer to suffer in silence.

Like the woman from NWFP, thrown out by her husband for protesting when he molested a relative, they fear that if they speak up, they will take the blame and lose face in society.

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