A famous quote says: ‘You give me an educated, healthy and brave mother, I will give you an educated, healthy and brave nation’.
Unfortunately the plight of women and their miseries are increasing day by day because women in Pakistan have been denied the enjoyment of a whole range of rights — economic, social, civil and political.
Women are denied not only the right to education, but also the right to decide matters relating to their marriage and divorce. Those denied these rights are more likely to be deprived of the right to legal redress. Often abuses are compounded: poor girls and women are trafficked and subjected to forced marriage, forced prostitution or exploitative work situations such as bonded labour. These deprivations are manifestation of discrimination against women and girls in Pakistan, especially in tribal areas of Sindh are common.
Domestic violence and physical abuse, which includes rape, acid throwing, burning, and ‘honour’ killings is still widespread. Pakistan is also both a country of origin and a transit country for the trafficking of women for domestic labour, forced marriage and prostitution. Even a previous minister of the Sindh government, Manzoor Panwar, justified 80 per cent honour killings. There are lack of legal remedies for women fleeing honour killing and other domestic violence, a lack of shelter homes for women, or even couples at risk, an absence of reliable mediation mechanisms to intercede with parents who do not understand or accept women’s rights to freedom of choice in marriage, and an absence of reliable and prompt protection by the state.
While some progress has no doubt been made in bringing the issue of violence against women into the open, much remains to be done.
It is alarming that every year in Sindh alone 30,000 women die due to unavailability of maternal facilities, as well as 50,000 newly-born babies die during pregnancy due to lack of maternal facilities or die in the early days after birth.
I would request the government, civil society, NGOs and donor agencies to play their vital role for the betterment of women in Pakistan.