Being beaten, doused with acid or set on fire are just some of the dire fates that meet Pakistani women who are seen to scorn patriarchal rule by exercising free will. Every year, in hundreds of incidents across the country, a woman is violently attacked often by family members because she dared to make a decision regarding her own life.
The more gruesome and shocking cases get reported in the media but little in the way of change in our mindsets towards such horrors ever takes place. In death, these women become symbols of the victimhood and medieval expectations that have been perpetually associated with Pakistani womanhood. The sighs and headshakes after every tragic death reflect a resignation: this is the fate of Pakistani women and while we are sorry about it, there is not much that can be done.
So too will pass the news that a young woman in Murree was tortured and set on fire for refusing a marriage proposal. Her injuries proved too severe and she passed away soon after. According to the police, all suspected attackers are now in custody.
The story of this woman, too, will go down in the annals of female victimhood, while the rest of the country debates whether Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy did the right thing by highlighting violence against women as it presented a negative image of Pakistan abroad. Meanwhile, the Council of Islamic Ideology is busy defining what kind of weapons can be used to ‘lightly’ beat wives.
There is no need for either of these questions to be asked. The news of women being burnt to death gets out to the international community without a documentary and the men in this country continue to torture women without adhering to any legal support or fatwa sanctioning the right amount of beating. The real question is why Pakistanis are more concerned about their international image and the right method of beating wives than they are about the hundreds of women being killed every year with impunity?