Let’s recap. Within the past few days, a teenager was burnt alive by her mother for marrying without the family’s consent, a school teacher was murdered for refusing to marry a man twice her age, nearly 4 such cases of women being tortured or murdered by their families in the name of ‘honor’ were reported. 14 men of a jirga who strangled, raped and murdered a woman are likely to be set free.
Meanwhile, a minister verbally abused a woman in the parliament and refused to apologize to her and then a senator from JUI-F abused and physically attacked a woman on a television show.
Not so long ago, a federal body recommended legalizing “lightly” beating women and legislating the body parts of women. The Council has previously denied accepting DNA evidence in rape cases, condoned child marriages and called ‘khula’ un-Islamic. The only female member of the Council has complained that certain men dominate the Council and her voice is ignored. The government allocated Rs 100 million in 2016-17 budget to this body that is constitutionally redundant and has no legal standing.
Also, in the past few weeks, the implementation of a comprehensive, democratically passed, bill to protect women from violence was halted under pressure from a group of conservative parties and organizations. The representatives of the same organizations in the Parliament prevented the passing of a Bill against ‘honor killings’. Not surprisingly, some people defended these stances – even called them “progressive” – and media outlets continued to provide airtime to representatives of these organizations for weeks and gave them the space to spew hatred and misinformation.
Last month, a 24-year-old Christian woman was kidnapped and forcefully converted and married. In April-May, 18 Christian girls were abducted and forcefully married in Punjab alone.
Not even a month ago, peasant women from Okara were harassed and beaten by the police on their way to a protest camp in Lahore. Nearly 50 of them were arrested and unlawfully detained within the same day for exercising their democratic right to protest.
Barely a few weeks have passed since a transwoman was fatally shot and denied treatment by a hospital. Not a single legislation has been passed to protect trans-women from violence.
Some more facts: The Human Rights Commission reported that in 2015, there were more than 1100 reported cases of “honor killings”, over 900 cases of sexual violence against women, and 76 cases of women being burnt alive. 4 in 5 women face domestic abuse. Until 2014, the conviction rate for rape was 0% for five consecutive years. Just the tip of the iceberg.
Another fact: In Pakistan, 7 women are killed *every day* through some form of violence.
Now, tell me again how this country is safe for women and violence against women is a non-issue. Tell me how citizenship and equal rights are not a matter of privilege. Tell me how physical, psychological, emotional torture of women at all levels and beyond is not a daily reality.