With feministic values seeping into the core of our society, unconstitutional ‘family only’ areas, no recognition of domestic violence against men and reserved seats for women in the assemblies, Pakistan seems to be a feminist’s dream.
Out of the total 269 elected National Assembly seats, only eight are occupied by women. Yet, 68 women sit in the assembly, thanks to the 60 seats reserved for women. The oft-cited reason for this quota is to ensure that the assemblies, both national and provincial, represent the actual population of the country.
Domestic violence includes both mental and physical abuse. According to a study published in Scientific American in 2010, “While women do exhibit the much-vaunted ‘relational aggression’, men are more prone to all types of violence except one: domestic violence.” A 2006 study by the University of Florida, one of the first to include psychological abuse in their findings, revealed that “women are more likely than men to stalk, attack and psychologically abuse their partners”. While this may not entirely be true in Pakistan, where an overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims are indeed women, it is not uncommon for men in the country to suffer from domestic violence too.
Despite this, the recent Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill passed in Sindh focuses only on women, failing to discuss, let alone deter, domestic violence against men.
‘Family only’ signs are common throughout the country, especially in shops, restaurants and parks. These signs are often interpreted as ‘accompanied by women’. While a group of men will be denied access to such places, a group of women will not be treated in a similar manner.
Gender discrimination is fast becoming the norm in Pakistan and if not checked, accepted sexism might soon become expected sexism. Discrimination is not the answer to inequality, it is the cause. Empower women and give them equality and respect but sexism in all shapes and forms is wrong, whether it targets men or women.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2013.