Sir: In a society where there is no respect for women, we find a rise in violence against women. Violence against women is not a new phenomenon; in fact, it is an age-old worldwide problem. Women have been the victims of violence in one way or the other throughout the ages, in all societies and all communities in the world. They are discriminated against, subjugated and dejected frequently. Women have to bear the brunt of violence at the domestic as well as public level, in physical as well as emotional and mental abuse. In fact, every effort is made to make them meek and docile. The unfortunate incidents in Lahore, in which a minor maid was tortured to death and another 16-year-old maid allegedly strangled to death, are strongly condemnable and shed light on the miserable conditions of women in our society. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence against women is such a deep part of our culture and our lives. We find women raped, tortured and strangled every now and then. The conservative patriarchal mindsets have complete disregard for women. They even do not consider them to be humans.
The violence continues unabated because no social action has been forthcoming. Legislation exists but is seldom implemented with care or readiness. Indeed, those very persons in charge of protecting a woman assault her and humiliate her. Therefore, meeting the challenges requires a major shift in public attitudes away from individual blame towards community accountability for gender-based violence. The community must not tolerate violence from strangers or its own members. Communities need models and ways to deal with violence, which are built into community and development work. Community-based organisations and women’s rights groups need to be strengthened more. Similarly, public responsibility means examining ways that institutions use to condone the violence either actively or passively. Laws and policies too must discourage violence and uphold basic human rights. It should be acknowledged that gender-based violence is an abuse of human rights, and global declarations and action plans support the principle of a universality of human rights. Therefore, every effort should be made to protect and preserve women’s rights. For that purpose, mass media and education are the most powerful weapons to challenge such societal norms, which impede female development. It should be kept in mind that women, along with men, are equal contributors to the progress and development of every nation or state. Therefore, they should also be treated as equal citizens and be given their due rights with equal opportunities.
SYED ALI QASIM