Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

Ground-breaking Research on Gender-Based Violence in Pakistan

In March 2012 Rutgers presented the research report ‘Gender Based Violence in Pakistan’. This is a ground-breaking study: never before have Pakistani women been approached directly and asked to be interviewed individually.


he Rutgers Field Office in Pakistan recently carried out a study into Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in 3 provinces: Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh.

This research, as it turned out, broke new ground, as never before had Pakistani women been directly approached and asked to be interviewed individually.

Former studies into Gender-Based Violence had always been based on articles in the press and police reports.


Pakistani women researchers

Consent female interviewers

For this study thirty-two specially trained local women interviewed 4,513 female respondents. The fact that these female interviewers had to set aside their own (possible) experiences of violence and had to persuade the men within the families to consent to their wives being interviewed was also a first. And they succeeded!

Alarming figures

A WHO questionnaire*  was used and adapted to the Pakistani context. Preliminary results show shockingly high figures:

  •     75% of all interviewed women have experienced physical violence;
  •     66% have been victims of sexual violence;
  •     80% have been victims of psychological violence**;
  •     84% have had experience with violence of some sort.

The past twelve months have shown the same alarming figures. This means that women in Pakistan experience violence throughout their lives. Read more about these preliminary results in appendix 1. 

Dependent position

Notably, 24 % of all 13–16 year old girls are already married and 75% of girls between 16 and 21 years. A total of 75% of all girls have been forced into an arranged marriage in one way or another. Men are usually twice the age of their wives. Furthermore, there is a high rate of illiteracy among women and honour-related violence appears to have increased these past few years. This has strengthened the dependent position of women.


The research consisted of a quantitative study among women and a qualitative study among 78 men. The men were asked to voice their perceptions of masculinity, causes for GBV and solutions to stop the violence [see appendix 2].  Pakistani men face strong social pressure to act like men, e.g. their role of provider and protector of the family and being the one who makes all the decisions. As a result of unemployment and economic pressure they are not able to meet all these expectations. This results in frustration which in turn may lead to violence. Nevertheless, the men were asked how they themselves see a solution to this deep-rooted cultural problem. It is exactly this contribution of men that is needed to start a dialogue, according to Rutgers.

The future?

Since 2009, Rutgers has worked hard to get Gender Based Violence acknowledged in the most conservative areas of Pakistan, by training and capacity building of local organisations. This research is vital in order to produce scientific data.
With these results Rutgers can approach politicians, health workers, police officials and lawyers. The aim is to slowly bring about change in behaviour, to have the law changed and to be able to carry out more research.  

The research results were presented in Pakistan in March 2012. 

* Questionnaire used by WHO: Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women.
 ** Psychological violence relates to e.g. humiliation, threatening behaviour, name calling, threatening to abuse others (for example children).