Gender Based Violence in Pakistan

The Pakistani society is patriarchal in nature which encourages male domination and female subordination. It encourages superiority of men and enforces secondary status of women. It creates hurdles for women in society and restricts their freedom. The control over women is exercised in public and private life. It is carried out through cultural traditions and norms which aim at preserving subjugation of women. Even religion is used as a card to further suffocate women in the society.

The society controls their behavior, actions, dress code, freedom, education, work and attacks the dignity of a woman. The family virtue is placed in her virginity which has to be ‘preserved’ in order to maintain a respectable image of the family in the society. She is trained and disciplined from a young age to surrender to the patriarchal norms. These practices are embedded deep into the society and have become so acceptable that anyone who raises questions against is considered as an outcast and is shunned by the society.

Gender based violence is a human right violation and it is a major issue in Pakistan. Abnormal and amoral practices in the country includes rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, honor killing, acid attacks, kidnapping, forced prostitution, sex trafficking, domestic violence, physical violence being burned alive, dowry murder, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, virginity tests, incest, forced marriages, child marriages which usually targets young girls, custodial abuse and torture, threats of violence and harm, emotional violence, forced exposure to pornography, isolation, economic violence and use of children in order to punish or control a women.

A shameful irony in Pakistan is that if a victim tries to speak against her abuser or tries to report a crime, she is deemed as worthless and characterless not only by the society but by her family as well. She is emotionally blackmailed to either tolerate the abuse or remain quiet and forgive her abuser for the sake of maintaining a good image of the family. And if she dares go for a third option, she has automatically lost her dignity and of her family. This is one of the many reasons why cases in Pakistan go unreported and even if they are reported no rapid action or protection is provided to the survivor. Moreover, most men exercise violent behavior in order to feel manlier and to assert their authority. The patriarchal system has made subjugation of women in every aspect of her life and dictates the place and conduct of women.

The human rights violation against the transgender community is a result of stigma, discrimination, transphobia and violence which places them at lowest position in the society. Transgender are considered outcast in the society. When they are born, the parents leave them in dumpster or give them to gurus where they are sexually, physically abused and financially exploited. In other cases, they are often forced into begging, dancing and prostitution to earn money. They are denied their basic rights to education, health care, food, shelter and even life. They live in constant fear of their life. Kamran Arif, vice president of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that the transgender people bear the brunt of some of the worst discrimination.  They are mocked, abhorred by many and this is a result of growing intolerance and religious schools which project a strict version of Islam and the patriarchal society which strives on promoting male dominancy and subjugation of every other gender.

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