Domestic Violence Awareness in Pakistan

In 2009, WISE collaborated with Bedari, a women’s rights organization based in Islamabad, on a domestic violence awareness campaign in district Jhelum, an impoverished region of Punjab, Pakistan. Impetus for the project came after a bill against domestic violence passed in late 2009 by the National Assembly of Pakistan but which later lapsed in the Senate.

Bedari, a non-governmental development organization holds a 15-year record of successfully supporting women survivors of violence through crisis centers and other services, such as increasing public awareness about domestic violence through creative community-based education and cross-sector communication among legal and social service professionals. Anbreen Ajaib, program manager at Bedari, proposed a joint collaboration with WISE after attending the 2009 WISE convening in Malaysia. She was influenced by the Change through Communication module of the conference to develop an education and advocacy campaign against domestic violence.


With WISE, Bedari developed a domestic violence awareness campaign designed to encourage dialogue and understanding of gender equity. The program consisted of four key components: producing literature in Urdu on domestic violence; producing theatric community performance on domestic violence; facilitating dialogue among all members of the community, including police, politicians, and opinion makers in ensuring strong domestic violence legislation; and holding community-based awareness workshops with experts on how to recognize or speak out against domestic violence.

The project replicated proven effective awareness and sensitization campaigns that had been used in other districts. The collaboration was designed to focus on increasing awareness of domestic violence against women and related pending legislation. The project responded to an identified need to expand its work on domestic violence awareness geographically in very impoverished and illiterate or semi-illiterate communities in the district of Jhelum (Punjab). A critical component of the program was staging community theatre productions on domestic violence. Bedari and others have found that street theater is an effective communication tool in areas where most of the population is either illiterate or semi-literate, and that inclusion of youth actors helped to attract young viewers. Staging the theater performances in multiple community locations helped reach multiple audiences efficiently in a short time period.

Our Impact

The project’s key results included:

  • Producing illustrated booklets on domestic violence awareness: A short booklet written in simple Urdu on domestic violence was developed and 5,000 copies were distributed through two of Bedari’s partners. The booklet also included a two-page position paper against domestic violence using scriptural based arguments from the WISE Shura Council’s Jihad Against Violence statement.During the production process, religious and legal experts in Pakistan were involved in the production of the booklet, in addition to the WISE Global Muslim Women Shura Council.
  • Educating community members through theatre performances on domestic violence: The project team reported there was a lot of anecdotal evidence that audience members were engaging with the subject matter and learning more about domestic violence. For example, after watching one of the performances, Riaz , a street vendor, was “impressed by the efforts of young women.” He is struggling to provide quality education to his children, two of whom are teenage girls. He said: “I am really ashamed that we men who have power and education are not doing anything for the betterment of the society … I have daughters at home. One is studying in grade 9 and the other in grade 7. One day, they would get married, and if they face violence from their husbands or in-laws, that would be very painful for me.”
  • Mobilizing individuals in the community through three awareness workshops: Three advocacy and awareness sessions on domestic violence were held with community leaders, activists, and law enforcement. These sessions involved expert presenters and groups of 10 or more. Participants received booklets and actively shared the information with their families and neighbors.

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Bedari WISE Booklet on Domestic Violence


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