It is unfortunate that the state of Pakistan has failed to instil the fear of law into citizens. Because of this, time and again, we read stories such as the recent one from Haripur District of two women being stripped and pelted with stones in public for trespassing a rival group’s property to transport machinery. Surely, the punishment for trespassing is not to strip one naked and throw stones at him or her, as these vigilantes did. There is also the consideration that the rival group acted as it did because the members of the opposite group were female. This reflects, once again, the predominant chauvinistic mindset in Pakistan that women are inferior.
To those who are familiar with the culture, the act of publicly humiliating these women is not shocking because it is a common occurrence; women are subjected to harsh and unequal treatment, oftentimes even by their own relatives. The stories are numerous and bizarre, bringing great shame to the culture of Pakistan, in which women are seldom accorded equal respect. Because of our previous track record, there is reason to believe that these women received the treatment they did because they were, in fact, women. Nonetheless, it is a welcome point that the culprits have been caught. Getting justice for the women is the bigger task that lies ahead, with efforts to first punish the perpetrators and then to make examples out of them for other vigilantes and proponents of mob justice to follow.
The task of those in the corridors of power is two-fold. First, it is to create examples out of transgressors of law for others to follow. And, second, a long-term task, it is to create knowledge of law and consequences of negative behaviour through education. This means educating the youth on equal respect for women and creating law-abiding future citizens of Pakistan. Law enforcers must start doing their jobs so as to instil fear of law in citizens and to create a safer Pakistan for women.