Tackling gender-based violence in Pakistan | By Shahidullah Shahid


Tackling gender-based violence in Pakistan

SARA Inam’s incident in Islamabad is one of the recent murder cases that came into limelight.

However, thousands of such murders, rapes, mental tortures and economic deprivations are taking place in Islamic Republic of Pakistan without being noticed and registered.

These incidents are not a ‘few’ anecdotes of brutality but a reflection of everyday life for women in Pakistan.

Hence, such inexorable cases tell us something deep in our society that needs to be surfaced, understood and tackled.

The word gender refers to socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society deems appropriate for men and women.

Roles are divided based on masculinity and femininity; particular behaviours are expected from men and women accordingly.

These expectations and divisions vary from society to society. This variation tells us an essential fact that gender is socially constructed.

It is not something natural. It is sometimes mixed with sex which is something anatomical, naturally given.

The former can be changed but the latter can’t. Gender based violence refers to the harmful act directed at individuals based on their gender.

It is worth mentioning that violence against women has not been limited to rape and sexual harassment. It is an umbrella term that includes acts which inflict physical, mental and sexual harm.

Moreover, it constitutes violation of women’s rights; the right to life, right to equal protection under the law, right to equality in family, right to highest standard attainable of physical and mental health, and the right of liberty.

It, therefore, encompasses physical, sexual, economical and psychological violence. Regrettably, all forms of violence directed against women are due to their gender.

They are not random but premeditated, learned and inflicted. These violations are not visible to those who carry out them.

Time and again women have been subjected to brutality, sexual harassment and economic exploitation.

In 2018, a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts said: “Pakistan was the sixth most dangerous and fourth worst in terms of economic resources and discrimination for women as well as the risks women face from cultural, religious and traditional practices including so-called honour killings.

” Pakistan also ranked fifth on non-sexual violence including domestic abuse. The above figures may surprise us but these are the tip of icebergs. Let’s shed some light on the issue and its causes. The problem is multidimensional.

The roots are deep. Multiple theorists ascribe multiple factors that lead to violence and legitimize that. Social constructs about women are foremost reason of this agony.

—To be continued.

—The writer is a Budget Officer serving in Finance Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.



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