Domestic Violence: of lost rights and voices

In a country where the only acceptable society is a male chauvinist one and women are treated as mere commodities, it comes as no surprise that more than 90% of the women in the country are subjected to domestic violence, both physical and psychological, verbal as well as mental. However, the worst part is not that the women of this ‘democratic’ state are subjected to such violence; the worst case scenario is that women accept it as a part of their lives and consider it to be a part of parcel of them being a woman.

In a 2003 research paper printed in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, a survey of 216 women was conducted, and a staggering 96.76% (209/216) admitted to have been subjected to abuse, ranging from hitting and shouting to being threatened by a gun or knife. Even though the scope was limited it was appalling to say the least. More astounding: 108 (51.7%) reportedly did not respond in any way and merely suffered the violence and its attendant consequences in silence. This report itself speaks volumes of the kind of society we live in; where majority of the women are afraid of voicing their concerns lest they be more marginalized and victimized for speaking out.

There are laws to prevent domestic violence but nobody has ever ascertained the implementation of those laws to curb this menace. In a country where next to nothing is done to prevent women rights, the women of our society are accustomed to accepting kicks, slaps, and verbal abuses meted out by their husbands. But all is not lost. Gradually over the years, several NGO’s and organizations have been trying to create awareness amongst the masses about the threats that domestic violence portrays; on an individual, on the family and on the society in general. Though violence still remains widespread, people are taking personal responsibility against it and governmental institutions are also becoming responsible as can be deducted by looking at history that Moin Khan, the famous cricketer, was arrested after a complaint being filed against him by his wife of hitting her.

Therefore the deteriorating situation of domestic violence and women rights in Pakistan can be summed up by Mark Green’s words that “If the numbers we see in domestic violence were applied to terrorism or gang violence, the entire country would be up in arms, and it would be the lead story on the news every night.” So aptly true when it comes to our country, because as much as we harp about other issues prevailing in our country, we have failed to strengthen our roots by managing these core issues which make or break a nation. – Zainab Tariq