By Dur e Shahwar Hidayat.
Domestic violence in its various forms is bursting in Pakistani society now days. It constitutes the pattern of not only physical acts of violence, in addition to physical, sexual and emotional abuse too. Violence has traditionally occupied a central and elevated place in our culture. There are numerous manifestations of it in our social life. One of them that persist and has possibly increased is the violence against women. Violence against women is one of the most heinous human right abuses. It is a fundamental social issue that requires special attention due to the severe nature of its physical, psychological, social and emotional consequences.
In Pakistan, multiple precipitating factors are involved that promote brutal assaults against women. The very leading factor is a patriarchal society. In the lens of Pakistani patriarchal society it is the right of strong men to subjugate women through any means be it aggression, physical assault or even emotional assault; just having a tough day at work and venting your frustration by slapping around your partner is a very common practice. Even utterance of harsh words as venting frustration upon women is viewed by a large section of society as though it were droit de seigneur. It is in our traditional, behavioral and social norms which stresses that men are stronger than women. The concept that women are second to men is prevalent in our society thus giving upper hand to men to treat women as an obstacle. Patriarchal tradition is rooted in the minds, it is inherited that what men do is right. Girls are being enslaved to patriarchal system in the country since the day they are born so they are at mercy of men. From childhood it is embedded in the minds that the behaviors and actions of men are normal. In such a society what a woman can do? How she protects her rights? In our society a woman as a wife, daughter, sister or professional fights continuously against different prevailing violence.
Acid throwing, forced marriages, domestic tortures by in laws and relatives, sexual harassment and rape, the ultimate form of violence against women- murder and mutilation- is widely accepted as a mechanism for restoring honor, a practice institutionalized in customs. Observance of such established customary and cultural norms lead society to chaos, making more difficult for women to be treated equally. Though in our religion, Islam, harsh treatment with women is prohibited. Islam condemns violence against women. This issue was so important that Holy Prophet (SAW) addressed it in his last sermon. Regrettably, in our society customs are given preferences over religious laws. The patriarchal gender system is the root of inequalities and injustices. It is not confined to a particular social class. We can witness domestic violence if in rural society so it is equally common among urban dwellers. It exists among poor class, middle class similarly in upper class milieu. Moreover, it persists among educated and uneducated ones too. Thus persist across all social classes, gender and age group becoming a legacy being passed on from one generation to another.
Point is beside all definitions and examples we know nothing about domestic violence. We don’t know what it really includes. Every woman in Pakistan cannot relate herself being ever victimize of domestic violence or not. It not merely includes physical violence but emotional and mental too, which every woman in Pakistan has faced comes under the shadow of domestic violence. What is the limit where women start treated as an object, we can hardly mark difference. There is no instrument that can measure the emotional, mental and psychological abuses. Therefore, makes it hard to categorize report or even develop a legislature for it. We cannot see beyond this patriarchal system. Why to question violence against women when it’s male dominating society with completely prevalent injustice. However, only we know that it includes physical abuse and in its core it’s the ugliest and pathetic.
The constitution of Pakistan envisages that every person has the right to liberty and safety in accordance with law of the state. Several Bills are passed to protect women rights which are executed and put into practice in the outlook of women who are victims of domestic violence. Another problem is what a typical Pakistani woman believes. She considers it as her fate to bear the consequences of being born into patriarchal society. Therefore, any Bill containing provisions against domestic violence would have negligible impact on her life. What she thinks is that any reform would hardly impact upon her life. One of the reasons we can say is our lengthy or troublesome judicial system too. She has to wait for months and months until she gets a date scheduled for hearing. This system creates more stressed situation for victim and her family. Beside this many married women consider ill-treatment a daily practice. As it is the culture not to report against fathers, brothers or husbands for abuse. If they do so, they would bear the brunt of the consequences. The entire Pakistani society appears to revolve around preserving family honor even they are brutally assaulted.
Violence gives birth to violence. Government must come up with more effective provisions to protect women rights in Pakistan. In male dominant society we can expect oppression against any bill that is in favor of women but wise, neutral effort can make it possible. Such oppression is solely against establishing equality in society. It is very essential to give women equality, liberty and rights by spreading awareness. To aware both women and men of the rights of women and by educating not to follow any brutal inhumane conventions as they project negative impact on society making more and more difficult for women to strive. This issue is not linked to one particular class of the society but rather it involves all classes. So women as whole single entity unite for their rights. They must struggle in unity diminishing differences of class and race. Things will change when we will start treating women equally. Things will change when we will overcome this discrimination and humiliation. We cannot expect a woman to rise dignified future generation when she has to fight for her dignity every day. In a nut shell, sound, effective and synchronized struggle is needed on behalf of every associated segment of society in order to eradicate domestic violence. If we cannot abolish this equality yet our efforts can minimize the discrimination. In order to prevent women from domestic violence and provide them medical as well as judicial and legal support, new plans and intervention maps should be made in the societies in collaboration with health team members, religious and societal leaders, NGOs, police department and people from other similar groups.
Writer is Peshawar based student of English literature.