Accountability for Rape: A Case Study of LodhranThis project was a collaborative effort of the Centre for Human Rights and the American Bar Association – Rule of Law Initiative. The case study investigates the procedural and structural challenges that are faced by complainants & victims of rape in finding justice at the trial court level in Pakistan. The report involved analyzing 63 trial court files from District Lodhran, specifically cases that are ‘contested acquittals’ i.e. cases that went from filing to trial. The analysis explored factors from the occurrence of the incident to the announcement of judgment which cumulatively contributed to extremely high acquittal rates in rape cases for the district by complainants & victims of rape in finding justice at the trial court level in Pakistan.Research Assistants:Amad Tahir, Arsham Maqbool Bari, Deeya Farrukh, Mahrukh Shahid, Rabia Yasmin Bokhari, and Muhammad Sajjad QureshiPrincipal Researchers:Sevim Saadat & Fatima Yasmin BokhariRead the full report here. Economic Cost of Violence against WomenViolence against women is one of the gravest and most pervasive violations of women’s human rights globally, the effects of which are not limited to the victim and her physical and psychological well-being, but manifest in costs to the society and the economy as a whole. An assessment of the economic cost of violence focuses on this aspect of gender-based violence; it aims to assess the monetary impact that violence against women has on the victims and on organisations and institutions (state and non-state) dealing with cases of violence. An evaluation of these costs highlights the serious strain gender-based violence puts on a country’s resources, an issue of particular concern to developing countries such as Pakistan that already struggle with scarce resources.This report aims to stocktake some of the existing studies on the economic cost of gender-based violence, conducted both globally as well as in Pakistan. Through extensive literature review conducted by students at the Center under the direction of project leads, the report summarises the findings of these studies and the various methodologies each used. It also highlights the lack of a concerted effort in Pakistan to calculate and study the economic impact of gender-based violence in the country. It further provides recommendations on the way forward in order to improve data collection in this area and enhance the effectiveness of policies aimed at the prevention and reduction of violence against women in Pakistan.Student Researchers:Asad Naveed Hashmi, Anushay Babar, Hajra Yasmin Bokhari, Minhal Saad, Uzma Nazir ChaudhryPrincipal Researcher:Rabia Yasmin BokhariRead the policy paper here. Maternal Mortality in Low Income Households in Lahore, PakistanMaternal mortality is defined as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.” According to the UNFPA, Pakistan has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in South Asia. One of the major reasons for this is the lack of attention paid to women’s maternal health. Studies have shown that women living in poverty are the least likely to receive adequate health care and hence are at a greater risk of maternal mortality.A quantitative study was undertaken with 23 women who had a monthly household income of less than Rs. 25,000. Under the supervision of project leads at the Centre for Human Rights, students from the Human Rights Clinic at Universal College Lahore were involved in conducting literature review, devising a structured questionnaire, and getting the surveys filled. The data collected was analyzed to identify the common hurdles experienced by women in receiving adequate health care during pregnancy that exposes them to a greater risk of maternal mortality. Based on this, recommendations were made in order for women to have safer and healthier pregnancy experiences that reduce the chances of maternal mortality, and for Pakistan to fulfil its commitment to achieve its targets as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.Student Researchers:Rida Nasir, Kainat Nawaz, Mahnum Hasnain, Shahbano AliPrincipal Researcher:Seher AftabRead the policy paper here. The Use of the Two-Finger Test in PakistanThe Two Finger Test is an outdated medico-legal practice used to determine the virginity or habitualness of sexual intercourse of a rape survivor based on the laxity of their vaginal muscles. The test has been denounced internationally as having no scientific value and being violative of Human Rights. Despite this, the test is still used in many countries, including Pakistan. Pakistani courts have gone even further by drawing inferences about the character of the victim, ascertaining whether the victim consented to rape.Law students at the Centre for Human Rights, under the supervision of the project lead, researched the origins of the test, legal jurisprudence on the matter and possible violations of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan. The research was aimed at identifying the underlying reasons for its continued use in Pakistan and the legal justifications on the basis of which it may be deemed illegal. These were then analysed in light of measures taken by countries, subject to the same socio-cultural perspectives, in effectively banning the test. Resultantly, a set of recommendations were drawn up in hopes of eradicating the test at both the legal and societal level, as well as address the court’s arbitrary interpretations.Student Researchers:Ahmed Raza Kazim, Mah Noor, Muhammad Aaqib Bashir, Saadia Farooq and Shehnoor QaiserPrincipal Researcher:Zain SiddiquiRead the policy paper here. Rights of Transgender Persons in PakistanThe Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, passed by the Pakistani legislature in 2018 defines Transgenders as “any person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth.” The transgender community in Pakistan has been marginalised and denied fundamental protections of the law since time immemorial. Subjected to issues such as harassment, lack of access to education and health, and hostility from the public, the aforementioned legislation attempted to solve some of these problems.As part of the project undertaken by the Centre for Human Rights, law students at the Human Rights Clinic conducted a literature review, under the supervision of the project lead, into the various legal and societal issues faced by the Transgender community. The research was aimed towards assessing whether the steps taken under the Act were sufficient in addressing these issues. The students subsequently researched how the legislation translated into substantive actions by some provinces, highlighting their various shortcomings, and identifying the lack of action by others. The project concluded by making recommendations to the effect of pressurising the provinces to take meaningful actions and addressing the socio-cultural hurdles to the effective integration of the transgender community into the society.Student Researchers:Amna Iqbal, Mahnoor Tariq, Nida Qayyum and Sana e MuhammadPrincipal Researcher:Zain SiddiquiRead the policy paper here.