Pakistan - Social development





The current social security plan covers employees of firms with 10 or more workers. Family and self-employed labor is excluded, and there are separate systems for the armed forces, police, and other public employees. Social security coverage includes old age, disability, and survivor benefits, as well as sickness and maternity payments, workers' compensation, and unemployment benefits. This program is funded by 5% contributions from employers and any necessary subsidies from the government. The Worker's Compensation Act is supplemented by a Social Insurance Law and provides disability and worker's injury benefits to workers earning 3,000 rupees or less a month. The labor code requires employers with more than 20 employees to pay a severance gratuity in the amount of 30 days wages for each year of employment.

An Islamization program to promote social welfare in accordance with Islamic precepts was introduced in 1977 under martial law. Islamic welfare taxes, the zakat and ushr, were levied to redistribute wealth. The ushr tax on landowners took effect in 1983. Islamic beliefs are inculcated in the public schools and disseminated widely by the mass media. Laws against drinking alcoholic beverages, adultery, and bearing false witness have been strictly enforced.

The government's 1991 Shari'ah Bill, aimed at bringing Pakistani society more fully into conformity with Islamic tenets, included provisions to protect women's constitutional and property rights. Despite these provisions, women face serious social and legal discrimination. In a court of law, the testimony of women is not permitted in serious cases which may result in harsh corporal punishment (lashing, stoning, amputation). In cases dealing with financial matters, the testimony of two women must be introduced as evidence. The Hadood Ordinances, introduced in 1979, engrained Islamic precepts into the Penal Code. Women who have been raped may be subject to charges of adultery under these provisions. The incidence of rape is high in Pakistan, and most women are afraid to file charges. Honor killings are on the rise, and domestic violence is prevalent. Between 70 and 90 percent of women are victims of family violence; women are killed by their husbands for trivial matters. Most women are unaware of their legal rights concerning inheritance, and in following with Muslim custom, widows give up their share of the joint assets. Women's rights were further weakened in 1992, when the Supreme Court decided that men may divorce their wives without any legal or written notification.

The use of child labor in Pakistan is widespread. Children not only work in the agricultural sector, but are also engaged in lowpaying work in carpet weaving centers. Bonded child labor, in which the employer makes a payment to the child's parent and keeps the child to work off the long-term debt, has been made illegal but still may affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children.

Human rights violations include arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and torture. Pakistan's human rights situation declined with the coup, led by General Musharraf, that ousted the Sharif government.

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