Economic and social costs of violence against women in Pakistan: Technical report
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Ghaus, K., Ali, A., Anis, R., Areeb, T., Sabir, M. Chadha, M., Ballantine, C., Scriver, S.,...Duvvury, N. 2019. Economic and Social Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls in Pakistan: Country Technical Report. Galway: NUI Galway.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is widely recognised as a violation of human rights and a challenge to public health. VAWG also has economic and social costs that have not been adequately recognised. These costs not only impact individual women and their families but ripple through society and the economy at large. The threat VAWG poses to the social fabric of the country and its impacts on economic development have not been adequately investigated, analysed or quantified in Pakistan. The Department of International Development (UK) funded a five year (2014-2019) research project to examine the costs of VAWG in South Sudan, Ghana and Pakistan. The research in Pakistan was led by researchers at the National University of Ireland Galway in collaboration with Ipsos Mori (UK/ Pakistan), the International Centre for Research on Women (Washington D.C.), and the Social Policy and Development Centre (Pakistan). A National Advisory Committee composed of stakeholders and policy makers within Pakistan also inputted into the project. The research explores the tangible and intangible costs of violence to individuals, families, communities and businesses in Pakistan. It further estimates costs of VAWG at the national level. Although such estimates cannot account for the totality of costs of violence, many of which occur over generations or which have ripple effects that the methods used here cannot capture, the study demonstrates significant impacts from VAWG in Pakistan, and makes the economic case for investment by government and donors in the prevention of VAWG. Methodology To ascertain the costs of VAWG in Pakistan, this study used a mixed method approach including both quantitative surveys of individual women, households and businesses, and qualitative inquiry methods including key informant interviews, participatory focus groups and individual in-depth interviews. An overall sample of 2998 women was drawn from across the main provinces of Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory. 532 employees and 25 managers across 100 businesses in Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad took part in business surveys. In addition, over 100 individuals took part in qualitative interviews and Focus Group Discussions in the agricultural district of Sargodha and the city of Islamabad. A range of analysis methods were used including thematic content analysis, econometrics, and statistical analysis to generate findings and produce estimates of the costs of VAWG. Assumptions and Limitations An important assumption in the study is that any type of violence (economic, psychological, physical or sexual) has negative impacts for women experiencing such behaviours. The analysis thus explores the economic impacts of any behaviour of violence across the different locations that women experience violence. The study also has several limitations that need to be acknowledged. First, there is a strong possibility of significant underreporting by women respondents about their experiences of violence, given the stigma surrounding such issues in Pakistan. Second, the costs estimated in this study are not comprehensive given the narrow focus on tangible costs. Third, national estimates extrapolated from sample data can result in overestimates or underestimates depending on the representativeness of the sample as well as cell size for variables of interest. Thus, given these limitations, the estimates provide only an indication of the significance of the costs that are incurred due to VAWG in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the contribution of knowledge from this project on the social and economic costs of violence, though incomplete, is an essential first step in making the economic case for investment in activities to prevent, reduce or eliminate VAWG.