Perhaps the most tragic thing about a recent report highlighting the plight of a woman from the impoverished Kohaur Junobi village in the country’s south, who had had six of her fingers as well as her nose cut off by two men who wanted revenge on her husband, is that the story is not uncommon.
According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, almost 90 per cent of women in Pakistan are victims of domestic violence while about 1,000 women are victims of honour killings every year. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that 800 women had been victims of honour killings in 2010 alone, and almost 3,000 were raped every day. This figure must be looked at with the understanding that these are only the reported cases.
A report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation rates Pakistan as the third most dangerous country for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This despite the fact that a large section of the population reveres the memory of a slain female prime minister, even as a young woman is appointed as the country’s foreign minister.
Such a state of affairs highlights the fact that the writ of the state is simply not strong enough. It is time that all such backward tribal and rural customs, panchayats and honour killings amongst others, were done away with, and people made to turn to an efficient judicial system. This, of course, is easier said than done, but a shift in this direction must be made a priority — only then can societal attitudes begin to shift. It is only once the state becomes a protector for women that people will realise that women cannot be victimised in this manner. It is their helplessness and the fact that they have nowhere to turn which emboldens society, resulting in acid attacks, rapes and mutilations. It is high time that we take a firm stand to protect our women and realise their potential to be an asset to this country if given the chance.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.