Pakistan to set up special courts to tackle violence against women

A woman carries a sign and chants slogans during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Lahore, Pakistan March 8, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 June 2019

Pakistan to set up special courts to tackle violence against women

  • Chief justice says 1,016 gender-based violence courts to be established across Pakistan, at least one in every district
  • Pakistan sees thousands of cases of violence against women every year, from rape and acid attacks to sexual assault

Pakistan is to set up more than 1,000 courts dedicated to tackling violence against women, the country’s top judge announced on Wednesday, seeking to tackle a problem activists say the criminal justice system has long neglected.

Asif Saeed Khosa said the special courts would allow victims to speak out without fear of retaliation in the conservative Muslim country, where domestic violence is often seen as taboo.

Pakistan sees thousands of cases of violence against women every year, from rape and acid attacks to sexual assault, kidnappings and so-called honor killings.

“We are going to have 1,016 gender-based violence courts across Pakistan, at least one such court apiece in every district,” Khosa said in an address to fellow judges broadcast on national television.

“The atmosphere of these courts will be different from other courts so that complainants can speak their heart without any fear,” he said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog, reported at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women in its 2018 report.

There were no comparative figures and the Commission had previously said violence against women went largely unreported, particularly in rural areas, where poverty and stigma prevented victims from speaking out.

The country was ranked sixth most dangerous for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation a survey of global experts last year.

The new courts will operate in existing courthouses, but will hold domestic violence hearings separately from other cases to enable victims to testify in confidence.

A pilot court of this kind was opened in 2017 in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

Local High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said at the time that women were the most vulnerable members of society as one in every three had been a victim of physical or psychological violence.

Human rights campaigners said the Lahore court had been a success and welcomed the move to expand the program.

Romana Bashir, who heads the Peace and Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization working on women’s rights, said it was “a wonderful safeguarding measure”.

“Certainly women will be encouraged and feel strengthened to speak up against gender based violence. Consequently, women will be able to get justice,” she said.

Fauzia Viqar, a women’s rights campaigner who advised the Punjab government until last month, said studies had shown the performance of such dedicated courts to be “many times better than other courts”.

Tuned in: Pakistani twins ride the wave of Ertugrul’s success with local soundtrack

Updated 26 May 2020

Tuned in: Pakistani twins ride the wave of Ertugrul’s success with local soundtrack

  • Musician brothers say reaction to the cover version has been a ‘breakthrough’ experience
  • Work gets millions of views, retweets by Turkish deputy minister, global bloggers

KARACHI: It’s got a ring to it.
Or so say fans and followers of 26-year-old Pakistani musician brothers, Leo Twins, after the duo created a cover version of Turkish drama Diriliş: Ertuğrul’s original soundtrack.
“We were actually asked by our fans to create a cover version of the original soundtrack in the comments section of our channel. So, it’s an amazing feeling to know that it’s being loved so much,” Sharoon Leo, one of the twins, said during an exclusive interview with Arab News.
It’s the cover track which accompanies the roll credits for Ertugrul Ghazi, the Urdu-dubbed version of the drama series which is based on the history of the Muslim Oghuz Turks from the 13th century, and was released on state-run PTV on April 25 after Prime Minister Imran Khan said it would “help the youth learn about Islamic values and history.”
Since being released on video-sharing platform Youtube three weeks ago, the soundtrack has already garnered 5.1 million views.
Sharoon told Arab News that while recreating the cover was a challenge – owing to the popularity of the OST conceptualized by Jenerik Müziği – they’ve tried to retain its “Middle-Eastern feel” as much as possible.
“We always try to do our covers differently from the originals,” Sharoon said talking about their cover versions of HBO’s popular series, Game of Thrones, and Pakistani drama Mere Pass Tum Ho.
“There was an instrument in the original track which we thought could best be replaced with the rubab. We also enhanced the violin, which was not very obvious initially,” he explained.

A screengrab from the music video of the track 'Hum Zalmi' featuring Leo Twins.

While Sharoon plays the violin and cello, his twin, Haroon works with other instruments such as the guitar, rubab, tabla, piano, cajon, ukulele, mandolin, darbuka, and more.
Together, they set up Leo Twins, a namesake of their zodiac sign, in their birthplace of Rawalpindi in 2012.
Sharoon credits their success to their “real teacher in music,” Ustad Idrees Ahmed Khan, explaining how a simple gesture of kindness on his part set the tone for their triumphant rise.
“One day, we saw a guitar and violin at a shop, but did not have enough money to buy them. So, we sold our new mobiles and paid for the instruments. Ustaad Idrees Ahmed Khan, who used to give music lessons at the shop, was observing us the whole time, and asked if we would like to learn music from him for free. He said it was because he saw a passion in us for music, which was rare those days, especially in our generation,” Sharoon said.
That was eight years ago, and while they’ve had several hits and misses through the years, they got their first big break in 2015, after featuring alongside music giants, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam, as part of their team on Nescafe Basement’s Season 3.
However, nothing compares to the accolades they’ve received for the Ertugrul cover, Sharoon said, with the soundtrack being retweeted by Turkish Deputy Minister Ali Shaheen and several other bloggers in Turkey.
“It has attracted a very different audience. We have been doing covers to pay tribute to our legendary artists for several years now and could only gather 45,000 subscribers. Still, after we uploaded the Ertugrul Ghazi soundtrack, the number of subscribers has crossed 243K. This soundtrack has given us a new breakthrough,” he said.