Violence Against Women In Pakistan

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Any physical action or force which causes or intended to cause harm is called “Violence”. Physical abuse is not the only violence, but it is one part of big picture. There are many other forms of violence like sexual, verbal abuse, emotional, social, financial, digital/online abuse etc. Violence against women and girls is violation of basic human rights. The term violence against women refers to any form of violent actions and harmful acts ranges from physical, psychological, emotional, economic, sexual and social violence’s or threats of actions commit by men against women. Either it occurs in public or at private place, it has many forms ranging from partner violence to sexual violence, trafficking, sexual harassment and gender-based killing.

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According to United Nation Women report, approximately 15 million girls between age of 15 to 19 have face forced sex at some stage in their life and out of these 9 million girls were victimized only in last year. In most of the countries, girls are victimized by boyfriend or current/former partner. And according to the data collected from 350 countries, only one per cent of these girls reported this and sought for professional help. Its impact on women life span from immediate to long term sexual, mental and physical including death. It negatively affects women life and prevents them from fully participating and playing their role in the society. Women who have experienced violence from their partner have reported high rate of depression and having abortion as compared to women who have not.

Similarly, men who experienced violence as a child at home, or who observed their father or other member of family to use violence against women are most likely to report partner violence in their adult relationship. So, violence against women is not badly affecting to women only, but also families, societies and country.

A single factor cannot be considered as responsible for violent behavior. Instead, it results from multiple factors including social and cultural environment. Unbalance in social and economic power among different group of people is also cause of violence. Gender inequality indicate by unequal distribution of resources, power and opportunities between men and women. This give raise to women being less valued in community and creates an environment that enable violence against women. Many other societies are subjected to discrimination based on factors beyond their gender including other form of inequalities which also consider critical driver of violence such as racism, ageism, homophobia, etc. These discrimination and inequalities in societies can intersect with gender inequality to drive violence against different group of people like Aboriginal people, immigrant, disable people, older people and people who are lesbian. There are many other factors which do not predict violence, but they play a role to increase frequency and severity of violence. For example, harmful use of drugs, experience of violence or when male dominance, power and status is challenged.

Violence has transmitted from one generation to next and had affected women from all socioeconomic spheres and educational classes. Study shows that one in three women has been abused or beaten into sex in her lifetime worldwide. Its impact on life of women are from immediate to long-term multiple physical and mental consequences including death. Violent behavior in the society prevent women from fully participating in society. It is not only affecting life of women, but also production and development of the county. Witnessing violence during the childhood against mother or other people causing serious harm to children. It affects their attitude, mental development, emotional functioning and social development. These children are violent in their adult relationship.

Violence against women is very common in Asian countries like India and Pakistan. It is violation of basic human rights and it is an endemic social issue increasing at an alarming rate. In Pakistan, there are various laws and policies against violence, but challenge is to implement that policies. Women have lack access to these services.

Status of women in Pakistan varies considerably across classes, regions and rural/urban divide. In Pakistan, domestic violence is considered as a family matter without any appropriate assessment, interposing and solution. Therefor women face violent behavior and gender discrimination due to misuse of social values and religious norms. It has been found very common in families regardless of economic and literacy background. Typically, the husband, fathers, brothers and in-laws torture to such extent, which sometimes results a women death.

Generally, Pakistani women do not like to break the violent and unhappy relationship with husband to protect respect of family and shame attached to divorce. 

Violent behavior within home, typically involving partner is called domestic violence. This type of violence is most common. From theoretical perspective, it is observed differently from different scholars, psychologist and sociologists. Following are some important theories which categorize causes of domestic violence:

  • Sociological Theories:

Sociologist describe violence as a system rather than result of individual mental disturbance. According to resource theory, a person is more powerful if he/she own more resources such as potential, social or economic resource.

  • Psychological Theories:

According to psychologist, domestic violence is a medical problem. Abusive men have some sort of illness which causes them to behave violently. There are many contributing factors in it like anger, depression, emotional difficulties, low self-esteem etc.

  • Feminist Theories:

According to feminist theories, gender-based discrimination are root cause of domestic violence. Male consider themselves dominant and they try to control women just to express it.

  • Ecological Model:

Ecological model states four factors as source of domestic violence. These factors are individual behavior, relationship community and society.

Violence against women is related with number of causes and factors in urban and rural areas of Pakistan. Culture of Pakistan is male dominant. Males are considered as decision making authority in all matters including family, cultural, social, politics and law. Additionally, other common factors include daily conflicts between husband and wife, family related problem, decision disagreement, low economic status of women, choice preference, lack of information about women’s rights, male dominating social structure, under 18 age marriages and marriage decisions determined by parents. In Pakistan, existing judicial system, misinterpretation of religious data, role of media and custom values promotes male dominance.

According to Tazeen Ali in 2016, violence in Pakistan ranges from 21% to 50 %. In 2014 a study noted that domestic violence is more than 50% in the country, in which every part of country including rural and urban areas are covered. In 2012, a study conducted in Lahore and Sialkot which reveals that 31.5% women experience physical violence from their husband. In 2011, 34% of females face physical violence from their partner in Karachi, which is 57% in urban areas. These statistics and a lot of other surveys indicates that majority of women in Pakistan suffer some form of violence either from their husband, family or colleagues at work place. Its impact span from psychological and physical to reproductive health problems in women. Children are also highly affected from it. Children who witness violence during their childhood may develop different problem like anxiety, insecurity, depression, anger, poor anger management, poor social skills etc. As it is observed, some children may respond to violence by anger and antisocial manner while other respond is internalizing way like depression, feeling of insecurity. Although, some of the effects may be observed during childhood and other may not appear until adulthood. 

However, Pakistani women of today have better status and life than in the past. They have a better position in high offices including that of the Prime Minister, Speaker of National Assembly, as well as federal ministers, judges and generals in armed forces. There is a separate ministry of human rights which only work to reduce violation of basic human rights. Government and many international NGO’s are working to give equal rights and opportunities to women. Women are not playing an important role in the family only, but they are now considered an important part of a developed society. In some areas, women are facing great difficulties but there are some good examples that give the strength to work hard and do something good for society and country. As Mohtharma Benazir Bhutto was the first woman leader of an Islamic state and she was selected twice as Prime Minister of Pakistan. She did a lot of good work for the development and prosperity of the nation. It also proves if equal rights and opportunities are given to women, then they can also do something better than a man for society and for the nation. Most people in Pakistan believe in the religion of Islam which also give equal rights to man and women. The government of Pakistan has worked a lot for women empowerment, but a lot of work has to be done. 

16 August 2021

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