The life of women in Pakistan

By: Asim Mehmood 

Man and women are two parts of society who complement and augment each other rather than compete with each other for social supremacy. Home is the fundamental institution and basic unit of society. If we go to physical approach, then it is clear that men and women have different bodies, different physical strengths, different temperaments, different ways of thinking, different physical, physiological and emotional needs; their social role would also be different, So the question of their absolute equality is not sensible. But yes, they should have equal rights to love, equal right to honor, equal right to education, equal wages when they do an equal amount of labor.

In our society, unfortunately, women are not enjoying a good status. Women are bearing many problems accessing the right of honor, education, poverty, respect. In our society, women bear honor killing, acid throwing, assault of women, rape cases with girls and the list of goes on. Pakistan has the highest number of documented and estimated honor killings per capita in the world; about one-fifth of honor killings are committed in Pakistan. In September 2020, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had rung alarm bells over the plight of women in Pakistan, saying 430 cases of honor killings are reported in Pakistan during 2020. Of these, 363 were women and 168 to be men.

The recent grisly murder of Noor Mukadam, the 27-year-old daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, by the scion of a wealthy business family has raised many queries regarding the safety and security of women in the country.

Acid throwing is another evil in our society which spreads swiftly as the wind blows. It is deep root evil that deprived women from their rights. Acid throwing in Pakistan is a reflection of patriarchal society depriving women of their human rights. Acid throwing is tragic, a common threat that women face in Pakistan. According to Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) 80% of acid attack victims are women. Acid attacks were outlawed in 2011 in the Pakistani Criminal Justice system and the punishment for such an attack was set to life imprisonment. These laws are not effectively enforced. The frequent reasons that perpetrators cite for attacking a women with acid include suspicions of cheating in marriage, disputes over land ownerships, fathers attacked their daughters with acid for “looking at boys” and potential suitors attacked women for denying marriage proposals.

Rape culture in Pakistan is systematic. It is reinforced at every level; from blaming women for getting themselves raped to never really expecting man not to rape women. Rape in Pakistan came to international attention after the politically sanctioned case of Mukhtaran Bibi. According to late lawyer Asma Jahangir, who was cofounder of Human Rights group ‘Women Action Forum’, up to 72% of women in custody in Pakistan are physically or sexually abused. Rape of women on motorway, 12 year old girl gang-raped by four men in Gojra, Toba Tek Singh, women raped in the name of employment in Rawalpindi by property businessman are some bitter rape cases of recent days.

Here I can share some facts and figures of worldwide organizations and reports relating to women’s basic right. With reference to young women in Pakistan-Status Report 2020, the total population of Pakistan is 208 million of which 49% are women (Census 2017). Women don’t have the ability to make choices and decisions for one self. According to survey of World Bank in 2016, the number of female employees of Pakistan is 48.63%. According to UN report, Pakistan is the second-worst country for gender equality in 2017. 56% of male students and 44% of their female counterparts are attending school. Only 4% of female students can reach the degree level which is mayhem for the nation. The gender gap between men and women is nearly 11% which leads to lower nutrition intake in women. However, 58% of women have no right to say their health care. 30,000 young women die each year due to pregnancy issues i.e. 340 out of 100,000. In each passing hour 3 women losing their lives from pregnancy complications.

We are living the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but women are not enjoying rights regarding Islam, morality and social norms. In our society women are not secure to work and earn living for their household. We have to take some steps to revive this situation of women in society otherwise it will cause very reckless results. It is the responsibility of the State to enable the environment that supports women’s security, rights, economic empowerment, healthcare, education through laws and policies and their reinforcement through institutions; and strengthening women’s agency by supporting their access to decision making and their ability to address discriminatory social and cultural norms. Women are the second pillar of society without which no society can exist.