The failure to implement laws against domestic violence has led to yet another case of abuse. Recently, a woman from Abbottabad was accused by her mother-in-law and her husband’s second wife of having an extramarital affair. Upon hearing the rumour, the husband assaulted the woman and shaved her head, handing her a divorce immediately after. It is through some miracle that the woman is still alive, as it is estimated that around 5,000 women are murdered in domestic abuse cases annually in Pakistan. Alas, the woman joins roughly 70 per cent to 90 per cent of women in Pakistan who have been victims of domestic violence, according to Human Rights Watch.
Where, previously, the authorities did not view domestic violence as a crime, they have now begun arresting perpetrators in some cases. It is not enough that the police have registered a case against the husband and his two accomplices; they must pursue the case aggressively and arrest them. Clearly, the act of shaving the woman’s head was sadistic in the hopes of making the woman feel humiliated and embarrassed. Causing harm to another human being, whether male or female, is a breach of human rights and deserves to be classified as a criminal matter. The only way to tackle the case is to arrest the offenders and make examples of them for the country’s abusive element to uphold human dignity. Until authorities come down hard on criminals in such matters, we will never be able to eradicate this social problem.
Unfortunately, with such a high percentage of women in Pakistan having faced some form of abuse, the crime has become somewhat normative. Furthermore, some of our politicians are so backward that the 2009 Domestic Violence Protection bill was declared an attempt to propagate Western values in Pakistan, rather than an attempt to protect human rights. There is a long road to advancement as a nation if we cannot recognise individual human rights and let people live safely in peace and harmony.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2014.