Violence against women is a violation of their right to life, security, happiness and freedom. It is an exploitation of a woman’s weakness to defend herself as a consequence of her physical incompetence or her economic dependence on men. It is a bitter reminder for females to forego their delusions of an egalitarian world based on liberty, independence and equality. Men are superior and women will remain inferior. Their attempts at independence will be dissolved by physical or verbal violence if they dare. Violence against females is the men’s assertion that the former’s destiny lies in their subordination to men.
In our patriarchal society, it is considered a man’s sole prerogative, even fallaciously perceived as a decree of the Divine Law, to exercise unchecked economic and political tyranny over his female subordinates. Such belief systems have perpetuated gender disparities in all spheres of our society where the central relationship between man and woman essentially bases on the male’s exploitation of the female’s physical vulnerabilities. With the growth of globalization in recent decades, even though Pakistan has significantly transformed in political, social, economic and technological spheres, the appalling practice of violence against women has not deterred. As women have ventured out of their homes to acquire education, employment, and other needs, they are exposed to greater forms of oppression and brutality than just domestic violence, stalking, cyber bullying or emotional abuse. They have become prime subjects to human trafficking, workplace violence, sexual assaults, and most importantly, acid attacks and defacing. And for what crime?
The only effective way violence can be precluded from our society is by devising an appropriate public policy that ensures women’s equal empowerment through education, self-defense training and employment as well as through men’s legal accountability. There needs to be a proper law enforcement infrastructure, such as a network of governmental agencies in collaboration with the local police and lawyers in all communities, which undertakes the implementation of such laws at the grassroots level. As part of their compulsory education, all females should be taught techniques of self-defense, not only as a preventive measure for prospective assailants but also to equip women with independent security.
Additionally, through sustained communication via mobile phones and regular meetings, women can report any incidence of blackmailing, domestic or workplace violence to these agencies which will then execute the suitable course of action and penalize the perpetrators. Not just prevention, agencies should also mobilize and educate men through community programs as well as public messages in the local media and the internet to restrain themselves and others from physical and verbal violence against women. These public messages should also inculcate upon both sexes the positive consequences of gender solidarity with mutual understanding, humanity, and peace. Only then can we stop the reiteration of violence and hope for a peaceful society.
Surely, widespread violence against women has been a centuries-old way of men’s unilateral hegemony over women, which requires extensive measures, such as mentioned above, to fully eliminate. Moreover, this gruesome practice must be curbed if Pakistan is to prosper as a peaceful and democratic state whose female citizens fully benefit from its socio-politico-economic privileges.