Tackling gender-based violence in Pakistan
Men always resort to violence against women because they think it is appropriate to do so or something they have the right to do. Such mindset has been instilled by society itself.
Men always keep property inherited by father just because they think it is their right to seize it. Secondly, unequal distribution of power and wealth widens the gap between men and women.
Furthermore, men have been considered as breadwinner and women as housekeeper that further deepens the cracks. Most of the women are financially dependent on men and they have no decision-making power at home.
They are forced to submit to the decision made by men regarding their education, health, dressings, way of thinking, employment, socializing, and marrying. Thirdly, the learned behaviors through observation, experience, culture and communities also cause violence.
Finally, unequal social status makes women a soft target of violence. Men perpetrate violence because they have the ability to do so. Community norms privilege and ascribe higher status to men and lower status to women.
The more worrisome fact about our society is that women are the victims of inhuman crime but also blamed for the latter. It only adds insult to injury of the women.
In 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a rural Pakistani woman was gang- raped by order of her tribal council as punishment for her younger brother’s alleged relationship with a woman from another clan.
In September 2020, a women rapped in front of her children, was blamed by top police officer for travelling too late at night on motorway. Most of the time, rape and sexual assault are linked with women’s clothing. The list of violence goes on.
The issue is troublesome. Can anyone be a winner when half of the society members are kept at bay? It corrodes our society from inside. The poison dilutes the sweetness of relationship and kinship.
Such inequality weakens the bonds of affection, love and goodwill. Therefore, it is highly imperative to stop this malignant tumor from further spreading. Fortunately, things are changing but in this direction something deeper is required because something somewhere deeper is terribly wrong.
Pakistani women can do wonders and conquer the world with their sheer determination, campaigns and activism in different realms of life if they are encouraged, motivated and given standard education.
Henceforth, not only the government but communities of different ethnicity, race, sects and language must also come together to end gender-based violence and advance gender equity and equality in Pakistan.
Let’s be clear: Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. Gender based violence is a showcase of power and control, victimizing the gender which is vulnerable and weaker in the situation, seeing a “soft target”.
Violence of any forms whether emotional, physical or sexual should be condemned collectively by all the institutions. The only thing that turns a victim to survivor is awareness. Let’s unveil the criminals /assaulters, not the victims.
Education is the most effective tool which can reduce, control and eliminate this behavior. Religious scholars need to play their positive role to avoid wrong interpretation of religion regarding gender inequality.
Men too should put in sincere efforts to change their behavior and make laws that promote gender equality because no one is winner in this game.
Gender equality will not only end violence in society but also make it a better place to live in. Speedy and timely justice to women will discourage the perpetrators of more violence. Equal space in politics will help women to legislate about their issues.
In addition, educating women on equal footing is paramount to make them aware about their rights. In a nutshell, gender equality will not only be beneficial for women but for men as well, for it will wash out violence, injustice, hate and inequality from society. —Concluded.
—The writer is a Budget Officer serving in Finance Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.