Misogyny: A Threat for Domestic Violence
Syeda Mahnoor Ali Naqvi (Program Intern, SSDO)
Pakistan has been ranked 153rd out of 156 nations by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2021 index. This is quite an alarming situation. This rank also brings attention towards the increasing violence against women in Pakistan. Unfortunately, violence against women has become so normal that we are accustomed to hearing a different horrifying story on social media every other day, yet the story along with the victim is long forgotten after a new trending case emerges. Hence, we are being unable to recognize the horrifying impact it inflicts on society which also raises a finger at the state for its incapability or interest in protecting women.
According to the report “Tracking Numbers: State of Violence Against Women and Children in Pakistan” published by Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), the statistics were quite horrific. The report basically compares the number of cases reported to the police and cases reported by the media. There exists a huge difference between the two. According to the report, in the last six months 24, 013 cases have been reported when it comes to violence against women. The report is set on different indicates which include rape, kidnapping, honour killings, domestic violence etc.
Keghad Baloch, a woman roughly in her early 50’s, who was allegedly tortured and murdered by security forces in Kech, in Pakistan’s insurgency-ridden province Baluchistan convinced us that violence against women was initially considered a horrifying consequence of lack of education, widespread misogyny or poverty in a patriarchal society such as Pakistan. However, we were forced to reconsider these stances after the alarming cases of Noor Mukkadam, the 27-year-old daughter of Pakistan’s ex-ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan, at the hands of Zahir Jaffer, son of a business tycoon, in the capital city of Islamabad. Another case was of Tehmina Durrani, who accused her ex-husband Mustafa Khar for domestic abuse in an autobiography book she published in 1991, ‘My Feudal Lord’. All these cases indicate that this evil is found in all social classes of Pakistan.
Domestic violence is one of the major indicators of violence against women. Approximately 5000 women are killed every year from domestic violence, with many others mutilated or disabled. Women have reported assaults ranging from physical, psychological and sexual abuse from spouses. According to the statistics, there have been 325 cases of domestic violence in Punjab from 1st January to 30th June 2021, whereas media has reported only 158 cases which means that many cases are not highlighted by the media.
Something that unexpectedly hit me was that families wait all year long for holidays to spend quality time together and pandemic had given them that chance. However, violence statistics showed a rampant increase during this time. The cases specify the deep-rooted issues of intolerance and frustration in the societies.
Mariam, a woman in her 30’s is a house-help, working in 3 different houses to earn money for her children while her husband; almost 70 sits idly at home offering no financial assistance. Instead, he physically and verbally abuses her. Another horrifying story surfaced earlier of Saima Ali, a 23-year-old girl who was badly injured along with her brother. Their mother was shot by their father in Peshawar. Another case of domestic violence was of Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch, a mother of four, was allegedly tortured and murdered by her husband in Hyderabad in Pakistan’s Sindh province. We get to see news like these on a daily basis on the media. However, we are not even sure how many cases are still unreported.
To cater the urgency of the situation, a gender protection unit has been inaugurated in Islamabad for women to file their complaints against their abusers whether through the helpline 8090 or by walk-in. Most cases have been recorded regarding domestic violence, according to the GPU. This unit is a great initiative to motivate and encourage women to speak up against violence, knowing the fact that their complaints will be addressed, the complainants will be protected and the culprits will be held accountable.
While referring to the Gender Protection Unit, Syed Kausar Abbas, the Executive Director of Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) stated; ‘’This unit has been really efficient in building the confidence of victims; women and other marginalized communities to file their complaints on the helpline 8090 as Islamabad policy has been working effectively and can be described as a public friendly police’’.
Pakistan’s parliament passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021 in order to institutionalize measures that would conveniently provide essential precautions for protecting and preventing all sorts of domestic violence against women and children. In July, the advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Parliamentary Affairs, Babar Awan wrote a letter to the speaker of the National Assembly asking for the review of the passed bill against domestic violence as he claimed it to be to broad and said that it should be sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).