Why is it that we criticize someone else's independence so much? Always consider their liberty too far fetched for one's needs. Do "we" decide what others truly need in life? Whether their demands from their own selves are justified or not?
None of these questions have a 'yes or no' answer. There are too many extended threads to every clause, well of which have become considerably monotonous over time. Why? Well that's easy. Listening to journalists scream out evidences of our prevailing ignorance and indifference towards this egoistic flight plaguing the very base of individual liberty. Watching activists waste their lives in tragic strikes. Reading about more and more blasphemous trespassing on some perfectly normal human being's rights everyday in the newspaper. All this outrageous insanity has become a regular cadence to our ears, therefore, we no longer find the newer barging sounds disturbing any more. Being the fragile hearted beings that we are, we still fail to provide compassion to those who seek it. In times so grey, how do we expect humans to stand against the genuinely grave societal issues and bar everything that could stain our very treasury- our Women?
Being a girl who wasn't allowed to leave city to attend College, I didn't think I would ever want to talk about this. But here I am, ready to walk through the same painful arguments and conventional logics that even my parents were forced to put forward; just to make sure that my voice reaches out to people reading this so that they realize that money or status does not save you the misery of reactionary measures undertaken by a lofty majority of heartless extremists or our otherwise complex male-ridden society. We, all women, are equally vulnerable no matter what beliefs we dwell on. From Christian girls being gang raped to five year olds being kidnapped from right in front of their own houses to innocent girls kept from all sorts of education and exposure, each and every girl in Pakistan is merely an object in the eyes of animalistic psychopaths and unfortunately, the law itself. We have seen ages go by, unchanged; men objectifying their own women either to highlight their undeserved authority or because they've learnt to derive pleasure from something that is considered one genuine sadistic crime in other major states around the World. Either way, they are causing damage to the sanctity of liberty offered to women in our homeland. No law embarks any restrictions on women reaching out to opportunities. Sadly, the law has failed to maintain consistency in this regard which is why our aspirations have been locked behind barriers of restrictions.
Pakistan has been ranked third on the list of most dangerous countries for women with over 1000 women and girls made victims of "honour killings" every year, as recorded by the Human Rights Commission. With 90% of women facing domestic violence and recorded 113 rape cases in eight months. 44 women a month at the least, being victimised in acid attacks. But wait, doesn't the law look over the same facts and figures?
Of course it does. Only, the measures taken by the law give us many more cases like those of Mukhtar Mai and Fareeda Kokikhel Afridi. Undertaking the most careless actions at hiding victim's identity to respect her and her family's personal space, the law has become people's last resort to turn to in times of need. Whereas, being an Islamic state, we are bound to observe equality and our law to be the most efficient means of resolving disputes into justice for the deserving. Therefore, it is utmost important to strengthen the very base of our courts so that sensitive issues can be settled smoothly.
Immediate steps could include relaunching DNA tests as main evidence in rape trials. Council of Islamic ideology declared it inadmissible which was a considerable step back for our legislation regarding our country’s rape victims who are already suffering from intense social stigma that prevents them from reporting rape. Furthermore, unnecessary provocation by the media appears nothing more than an extended propaganda. In the race of advancing at a faster pace than the rest of their peers, print media as well as electronic media, has become unguarded and unattended for. Gang rape videos become increasingly viral on websites which serves as an added intimidation for the victim. There needs to be a control over information that is being publicized and might have a tangible threat to someone's honour. It is important that the already traumatized families are not put through further stress. They should be provided as much security as they demand to prevent any and all jeopardy to their lives. Setting a precedent has always been a crucial clause of discussions regarding punishments. Courts need to chase such cases of violence and punish the culprits for what they're worth. Set an example for others. This would largely reduce the already accelerated numbers of violence cases in the country.
At this point in time, law and order of the country require reforms. Provided the present condition of the country, we are supposed to stand as a nation and fight for the good cause together. It can only be made possible if we women are treated as the law and our religion promises us. We deserve the security that they promise us. Most importantly, we should demand the rights we're promised. Only then will our nation truly 'progress'.
Minal Maqbool Malik
Punjab College for Women