Pakistan Observer

Women and human rights

Hashim Abro

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - It is deeply disturbing fact that more than 90 percent of Pakistani women believe they are the property of their husbands- before marriage that of their parents- it seems obvious that they are not aware of their human rights secured under the law of the land and that also the international law. Since 1948, there have been more than a dozen major international conventions and protocols protecting the human rights of women throughout the world. Governments are required to act and eliminate “social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women. A special legal duty is imposed upon governments to “take into account the particular problems faced by rural women. Women have the “right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent.”

Children can not give free and full consent to marriage. As parents, women shall have equal rights “irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children.” It is discriminatory to arbitrarily deny women spousal support and equal custody rights at divorce. Various other conventions ensure that women are protected from involuntary servitude, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Domestic violence can not be ignored as simple “family misunderstanding” but must be prosecuted as a serious crime. The Convention on the Rights of the Child protects young girls from being forced to undergo the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation and rape in the form of child marriages.

It is, indeed, time to end the silence and stand up and speak up against their dehumanization in different parts of Pakistan. The rampant violence against women must not be tolerated. It must be combated through a combination of education, information and rigorous prosecutions of abusers. If actions or lack of action speaks louder than words, it is obvious that ruling elite do not think much of their women’s lives and dignity. A broad social movement needs to be established to challenge all practices that degrade women and challenge cultural and social patterns defining the lopsided power relationship between men and women in Pakistani society.

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