Last week Shazia Bibi, a resident of Lahore, was taken to the Mayo Hospital with severe burn injuries. According to what her husband told the police, his other wife had thrown boiling water on her. It was not until a day later that she told the police that the culprits were her husband and his brother, after she had refused to ask her parents for Rs100,000 as asked by her in-laws.
Unfortunately, Shazia did not survive to fight against this violence, but then how many who survive do?
Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. No less than Eid or Christmas for women’s rights organisations, human rights activists, bloggers and media producers. Another day to market our goals, highlight our achievements, if any, and ask for more and more aid. It’s a good day for all of them – except those who are facing violence.
How many of them even know this day exists? How many even know they can seek an escape? How many even live to know?
The Aurat Foundation’s mid-year report says that 3,132 cases of violence against women (VAW) were reported in 2012 until June. Another report puts south Punjab as the region with the highest number of reported VAW cases.
I am not surprised.
What can be a more dangerous place for women than south Punjab, where there have been cases of women being slaughtered, burned, and buried alive; of acid being injected into their uteruses, maimed and raped. And after all this, the culprits, regrettably, roam around free and in certain cases women themselves were the assailants.
It was hard to believe, when during a recent visit to my gynecologist, I met a woman who said her husband had forced her to abort for the second time because he did not want “another daughter”. I had thought this bestial treatment of our daughters had ended in this day and age.
This is not just another write-up jabbering about illusory situations regarding women’s rights. Rather, it is a reminder of what has not been done and needs to be done: we need to do what we can to save half of the world’s population from persecution of the worst kind.
This isn’t rocket science.
All they want is to be treated like human beings with their needs, wants, aspirations and dreams fulfilled. They need to be acknowledged and recognised for what they do, just like any man. And the deprivation of all of these is caused by violence against them.
The established truth is that you can hurt them, trade them or kill them, but you cannot silence them.