Rights Watch | 5th January 2021

Khula decrees received by family courts in Sindh increased sixfold in 2020; Karachi cleric remanded for two weeks in case pertaining to sexual assault and blackmail of a thirteen-year-old girl; Bill presented in US House of Representatives seeking to end Pakistan's status as a non-NATO ally.

Rights Watch

Sixfold increase in khula cases in 2020

According to official statistics received by Dawn, 5,198 women in Sindh filed for khula in family courts across the province in 2020, a 722% increase from 2019 where 632 such decrees were received. Karachi’s five districts accounted for 4,050 of these cases, with District East accounting for the highest number of divorce petitions at 1,249.

In late March of 2020, the Government of Pakistan introduced emergency measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, which included urging the public to remain indoors. Rights organizations noted a worrying increase in reports of domestic violence against women during the pandemic situation, due to economic pressures creating hostile relations and women being forced to remain in close proximity to their abusers.

Sex-offender cleric remanded for 14 days

A Karachi District East judicial magistrate sent Qari Abdul Qadeem, a Quran teacher, to two weeks in judicial custody in a case pertaining to sexual abuse of a thirteen-year-old girl.

On Sunday, January 3, Qadeem was arrested by the Cyber Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) after receiving a complaint from the girl’s mother that the cleric had molested her daughter, and had taken sexually explicit images with which he used to threaten the family if the girl did not comply. The girl’s images and videos were recovered from the accused’s cellphone and USB storage device in a raid by agency officials.

The FIR filed against him included charges of possession of child pornography under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. Upon arrest, the court had remanded the accused in the custody of the FIA for three days and ordered the investigating officer to submit a progress report. The accused was brought before the magistrate after interrogation had ceased, and was remanded for two weeks.

Pakistan’s non-NATO ally status under question

Republican congressman Andy Biggs has presented a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to void Pakistan’s special status as a non-NATO ally. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The bill proposed removing Pakistan’s designation, which allows it access to American military supplies and participation in defence research and development programmes, unless it contributes to disrupting the operations of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan.