8 Pakistanis tour NH domestic violence programs
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Eight women’s rights advocates from Pakistan visited New Hampshire this week to learn how to combat domestic violence and were stunned by the magnitude of the problem here.
‘‘All the violence we are facing, you have here,’’ said Ishrat Jabeen Aashi, a gender specialist based in Islamabad.
They listened to a 90-minute presentation Tuesday at the Judicial Branch’s Trial Court Center in Concord about how the courts deal with victims and defendants, and learned that half of all homicides in New Hampshire are domestic violence-related.
Several Pakistani advocates said it was frustrating and disappointing to learn that in each state they have visited on their four-state tour, domestic violence cases seem to be on the rise.
Elizabeth Paine, chairwoman of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, told them that many women withdraw their petitions for protective orders — often in the face of coercion from their abuser.
Irsa Younus, who runs a women’s shelter, said she came to the United States to find a model for how Pakistan should proceed. ‘‘But this model also has the problem,’’ she said. ‘‘We have to go beyond the model.’’
The visitors were impressed to learn that New Hampshire judges will authorize protective orders on weekends and in the middle of the night if police request them. There were 581 emergency orders issued by telephone in 2011.
But they were also surprised at the extent of domestic violence and homicides in New Hampshire and elsewhere in the United States.
The seven women and one man visited programs in Dallas and Phoenix before coming to New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday. They will tour programs in Boston before heading home.
The tour was arranged by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership program.
Seven of the eight were visiting the United States for the first time.
‘‘I am feeling the same pain for women of the United States the way I was feeling in my country,’’ said Sobhya Agha, coordinator of women’s violence prevention program for the Sindh Police. She said advocates in the U.S. and Pakistan should work on sensitizing men and adolescent boys in both countries about domestic violence.
Saba Ismail is executive director of Aware Girls and works in tribal areas of Peshawar, near the Afghanistan border. She said many of the teenage girls she works with are psychologically traumatized by suicide bombings and sexual violence.
Ismail said that in 2009 — the most recent statistics available — nearly 1,400 women were killed in Pakistan and a thousand were raped.
‘‘Sexual assaults are common,’’ she said.
Aashi said she now feels domestic violence is more of a problem in the United States than it is Pakistan.
‘‘People know how to highlight issues here in the media,’’ she said. ‘‘We cannot give any negative impression of the country.’’
Aashi said Pakistan’s domestic violence issues are more prevalent among the poor and uneducated.
‘‘If we can address the poverty issues and people have enough money to survive, domestic violence will decline,’’ she said.