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Violence against women is hampering progress

WOMEN in Pakistan make up 52% of the population.One of the estimated 20million HBWs (Home Based Workers) in Pakistan, 12 million are women and 65% of PKR 400 billion (USD 2.8 billion) HBWs contribute to economy.

But unfortunately, most receive low wages and are denied legal protection and social security.

It is very saddened to say sexual violence is endemic in Pakistan. Simultaneously, to curb increasing rape incidents in the country, many ordinances have been passed and ultimately fueled disappointment.

Motorway incident of a woman got raped in front of her minor children led two anti-rape ordinances, the anti-rape (investigation and trial) ordinance 2020 and the Pakistan penal code (amendment) ordinance 2020 which expanded the definition of rape, included harsher punishments for perpetrators.

However, according to the data of white ribbon Pakistan an NGO working on women rights, between 2004 and 2006 4,734 women faced sexual violence, with over 1,800 cases of domestic violence and kidnapping of 5,500 women.

According to official statics, there are at least 11 cases of rape every day in the country. But these are just reported cases, with social and cultural taboos, or the fear of reprisal, preventing victims or their families from coming forward for reporting the cases.

This is indeed a sorry state of affair in 2018, a survey of global experts on gender security ranked Pakistan as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women.

And according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2021, Pakistan ranks 153rd out of 154 countries on gender parity.

Aforementioned all facts are heartbreaking and need strategies to cope with the issue but still people have not left no stone unturned to be engaged in blaming the victims.

Mostly, people suggest wearing purdah.What do you think, is it the only reason for sexual violence? With the purdah, aren’t they getting raped?

Realistically speaking, harassment is an ugly reality that many women have suffered with at their workplaces, on the streets, in public transport and even in institutions.

Sexual abuses are routine acts. Only blaming the external cultural influences makes it extremely tough to fight sex crimes.

Such hidebound ideas do not show maturity. Since there are numerous reasons of sexual abuse.

Violence against women isn’t cultural it is criminal. Equality cannot come eventually, it is something we must fight for now.

In fact, there needs to be done a lot in criminal justice system. However, 51,387 cases are pending before the Supreme Court.

And it goes further, last year, in late May 2020, it was reported that 44,658 cases were pending before the apex court, that was the highest ever pendency in its history.

Overall, there are 2, 160,000 cases yet to be disposed of in Pakistan’s judicial system. Reports make it clear that the law of the jungle is prevalent in Pakistan.

Because we have a selected criminal justice system which always fails to give justice to poor, needy and misery people because of lacking a strong background.

If they arrest the culprits, many of them exploit grey areas in the criminal jurisprudence, used money and their influence to go scot-free.

Moreover, incompetent and overworked public prosecutors, people prepared to bear false witness for a price, shoddy police investigations are seriously contributing to the violence.

Shockingly, 0.4 percent of population do register their cases just because of the system. Similarly, when a state is resting on a weak criminal justice system, such as Pakistan, is prone to be a strong market for child pornography.

Just the oppressors and oppressed are changing by the time. No, doubt, criminal justice system is considered one of the hallmarks of a functioning state until criminal justice system build trust in victims and install in them confidence that their culprits will be brought to book, women will remain vulnerable to abuses.

No one should ever forget the fact, education system is just creating robots and calculators instead of human beings.

Because when a street guy harasses the females, you can call it only a failure of criminal justice system but here harassment is not just confined in streets rather it exists in overall system even in institutions such as schools, colleges, madrassas and many more.

The recent sexual harassment case of Baluchistan University is an eye-opening incident for our policy makers who always turned a blind on institutions.

No doubt, an investigating committee was made to proceed the inquiry, headed by a female MPA Mahjabeen Shiraan but the culprits were not brought to book and the issue was brushed under the carpet.

Now just imagine, how can a religious and patriarchal family could send their children to universities and offices that have no privacy?

The facts provide significant insights into how sexual harassment, poverty, unequal access to school, socioeconomic barriers hamper girl’s education.

Similarly, in families where finance is an issue, a girl’s education becomes less important than that of her brothers.

That is why, only 4% of female students can reach the degree level which is mayhem for the nation.

Institutions are called to be the most secure places and highly appreciated for their privacy. If in institutions women are being sexually harassed, then question arises on education system.

Realistically speaking, Institutions are the red spot of sexual harassment. Students are blackmailed by the so called teachers along with the administration.

You might not believe since the cases are left always unreported. Our literacy rate is victim of confusion each reports provides a different number.

According to one of the reports, it is around 59 and Bangladesh’s literacy is higher, 73. In the similar fashion, Illiteracy is one of the major issues country is faced with currently.

Illiterates hardly understand true value of women. They just regard them as tools to quench their sexual desires. Moreover, for the institutions, knowledge production is not a priority.

As if they are money minting enterprises and they use the all possible ways to gain more students especially private sectors.

No nation had ever reached to advancement and prosperity until that had a quality education system.

This is why, working on education sector should be one of the priorities of government since it doesn’t only contribute to decreasing (GBV) Gender based violence rather shape the society morally, socially and politically.

Finally, gender discrimination can’t be ignored for giving a helping hand to sexual violence. However, the report found that Pakistan’s gender gap had widened by 0.7 percent points, to 55.6 percent, making it one of the worst countries for gender parity.

Only Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan fared worse. To add more to it, the recent 2021 report of World Bank, just 21 percent of women were part of the labor force, as compared to 78 percent of men.

Aside reports, it is commonly observed women lag behind men when it comes decision making bodies.

Women and men have different economic also opportunities. Women and girls constitute majority of the people being trafficked and involved in sex trades while men are enjoying the highest and the most privileged professions.

Women are ordered to give birth to as many children as they can as if they are child producing machine.

No doubt, several reforms are needed in order to cope the issue such change in attitudes, and relationships, changes in institutions and legal frameworks, changes in economic institutions and changes in political decision making structures.

Thus, working on gender gap issues and creating a climate of non-tolerance for such violence should be the ultimate priority of the government.

Since, violence not just hampers women’s full participation in society but also put them at risk of poor health.

Source: Pakistan Observer