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Vulnerability of Women in Pakistan

http://verdexmi.com/tag/depredadores/feed/ Women have always been considered the weaker gender throughout history, though women are more than 51 percent of the world’s population, and in the men to women ratio, women have always outnumbered men but have always been given the lowest of places in the social hierarchy. Patriarchal culture has made women vulnerable and have made it difficult for them to function in the society as an individual. With the passage of time, with education, knowledge and experience, women rights and potential of women is being recognized and defended yet third world countries have a long way to go. In most third world countries women are given the lowest of places in the social hierarchy; a being that is used to produce offspring and serve the family without having any individuality or say. Pakistan, unfortunately, is one of those third world countries.

            In Pakistan, according to Census (2017), 49 percent of the country’s population comprises of women, though the percentage would have been higher had female feticide had not been a big issue. Pakistan is one of those countries where a female is vulnerable from the very birth or even when in the womb of the mother; once her gender is specified and the mother usually has no say in the decision even though she carries the baby.

Female babies are culturally considered to be a source of shame and waste of resources, that is why in many rural areas, the practice of feticide takes place. Babies who are not killed most likely grow up to face some kind of gender discrimination either at home or for sure in the outside society. Boys are considered to be the carriers of the family name and the care takers of their ancestral patrimony, hence in many houses they are given priority over the girls of the household. Growing up in a house where females are taught that they are less than their male siblings, teaches young girls that their existence is of lesser importance which leads her to a vulnerable position in the society.

Girls tend to accept any type of negative behavior received from men because they are mentally conditioned that way. Wage discrimination, occupational segregation, unreported workplace harassment all area the byproduct of this gender discrimination. Aurat Foundation noted that in the year 2012, on average six women were kidnapped, four were raped, three committed suicide and four were murdered every day, in Pakistan. These estimates might be just a fraction of what truly is, as these were derived from police reports and not reporting female abduction and rape is a common occurrence in Pakistan. Honor killing is another fold which barely gets reported, female are often also killed to obtain land slots or to prevent inheritance. About 32 to 39 percent of women have reported that they experienced physical violence at some stage in life in Pakistan, according to a report in 2013, most reports are not even reported either of shame or at times the police officers(who are mostly male) refuse to report a plea of a defenseless women against a man, patriarchy speaks volumes in such cases . Underage marriage and domestic violence are other reasons that add up to the vulnerabilities of female in Pakistan, about 40 percent of ever-married women have suffered from spousal abuse at some point in their life, once again this number may vary, as many cases are not filed (The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-2013). Women health is another issue that is highly neglected in Pakistan, death in childbirth is a very common occurrence.

            Despite having several laws for defending women rights and erasing the vulnerable identity that they hold, the lawlessness in Pakistan has led the policies to fail to defend the vast majority of women in the country, to top it off feudal mindset and maulvi system create more hurdles for the failure of these policies and laws. The personal benefits are masked in the name of culture, norm and religion. Religion is frequently used out of context to support violence against women. Many conventional religious scholars say that men are superior to women and can do whatever they want and try to rationalize men’s superiority over women in the light of Verse 228 in Chapter 2:

 ‘And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above (them).’

When taken out of context it may seem that their argument makes sense in the light of religion, however the verse is taking about the physical strength and the responsibility of the men being the protectors, this aspect is ignored by most feudal minded scholars. This is more of a social problem than a religious one as other religious communities of the same society voice the same opinion. In a paper by Ayesha Qureshi et al (2016), a Hindu respondent claimed it unacceptable for a girl to work or have a job, the same opinion was held by a pastor who said that women invite danger and the chance to be trapped onto themselves when working alongside men. Pakistan has a patriarchal society and it is targeting women constantly, if this issue is not looked over by the government and true religious scholars with seriousness, the feudal mindset people who get benefits for such gender discrimination will ruin the society.

Written by: Hadiqa Zaman

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