A woman’s fault | Special report

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IIt is very encouraging to see a discourse in Pakistani society about the prevalence of gender-based violence, especially in the media. Such discussions suggest that the earlier open rejection of violence against women has given way to an explicit recognition of gender-based violence, which goes beyond the most visible physical violence to more subtle emotional violence in the form of belittling women and the feeling that they are “less.” as men.

The improved legal framework for gender-based violence has helped to ensure that women affected by violence are recognized. To some extent, it has also contributed to prevention and protection. A number of laws have been enacted over the past two decades dealing with different types of crime. These include crimes that have sparked widespread moral outrage – such as rape, crimes in the name of so-called honor, and acid attacks. Other laws have drawn more anger and opposition because they appear to attack human privilege and power. Harassment and domestic violence laws fall into this category. These met with strong opposition from men – especially religiously motivated men, who argued that doing so would break up the family and fragment the institution of marriage. They have even received widespread support from some relatively liberal men. Taken together, these laws (national and provincial) have helped protect women from sexual violence, safeguard their heritage and property rights, prevent child and forced marriages, harshly punish crimes related to acid, and institutions to protect and empower Women to create.

Has advances in social recognition and legislation on gender-based violence led to a reduction in crime and / or better treatment for women reporting violence? It takes a long time for legislation to rethink even if there is strong enforcement that Pakistan lacks. Law enforcement continues to rely on societal norms that stereotype the roles of women and scourge women who show signs of opposition to prescribed gender roles. Law enforcement in the police, medical profession, prosecution, judiciary, and other government institutions responsible for access to justice and support for survivors almost always reflect the same regressive mindset that perpetuates regressive gender norms.

It is clear to men and women in the more conservative category that women invite trouble by violating social norms and ascribing behavior to their gender.

When it comes to sexual violence against women, including harassment and rape, many people believe that it is always the woman’s fault who invites trouble by deviating from the prescribed woman’s role, which dictates a woman’s place at home and under the protection of the male members of their family, in both single and married situations. According to this “blame the victim” mindset, women like the victim of the rape rape case on the Lahore-Sialkot highway have nothing to do with being out and expecting different treatment. Even in the case of Noor Mukadam, who was recently hacked to pieces, some people sympathetically thought that they would have been better off not meeting Zahir Jaffer. It is clear to men and women in the more conservative category that women invite trouble by violating social norms and ascribing behavior to their gender. Individuals in this category are quick to write off harassment and sexual abuse on women’s clothing and the lack of purda which is attributed to the shameful influence of the West.

The second reaction to women reporting violence is that “all of these women” are liars, bring false cases and abuse the law for personal gain. Good women do not put themselves in dangerous situations, nor do they want to report and publish incidents that damage their reputation. People are therefore eager to pounce on examples such as the Minar-i-Pakistan case and the case of the Faisalabad women (who allegedly tore their own clothes). Some people portray such cases as generalities rather than exceptions. Some police and judiciary seem to be firmly convinced of this Everyone Rape cases are fake, which means that there is no rape in Pakistan.

Such observations are rarely questioned or investigated to uncover the causes of sexual violence, even in cases where some women may be at fault. First, most “fake” rape cases are filed by landowners and influential clans to clear bills or to gain influence baradari/ Clan in favor of another influential family or household. In such situations, women are still used to the advantage of the men who control decision-making in all areas. Second, very strict moral standards are imposed on women who have exploited gender-based violence laws to their advantage. Abuse of women’s rights is dealt with on a blanket basis on the basis of exceptions, ignoring the abuse of civil and criminal laws when, for example, an entire village is charged with a murder case and this is not seen as a conclusion. “All people are liars”. Third, regardless of whether a woman goes into a public place and stages her harassment, there is no justification for the mob to attack her or to tear her clothes off. Men who attack women in public spaces not only testify to a complete lack of civilization, but also to impunity that can only arise from the knowledge that they are protected by the state. Remarks by the Lahore CCPO following an incident of gang rape reveal this assurance. Fourth, if sexual violence could be prevented through segregation and women covering themselves, there would be no abuse of women who are covered or raped in their homes. More importantly, little girls and boys would never be raped or molested.

This mindset is widespread in South Asia and is not specific to Pakistan. As recently as 2014, Asha Mirje of the National Congress Party in Maharashtra, India said that “rape also takes place in inappropriate places because of a woman’s clothing, her behavior and her presence”. In 2015, in Dhaka, men tore their clothes off and abused women who were taking part in a solemn procession in broad daylight. The police did nothing but watch the attack.

For better law enforcement, it is important to tackle the sources of regressive attitudes that are neither culture nor religion, but the desire to cling to undeserved power and privileges that are based on gender rather than intellect or ability are based.


The author is a gender and inclusion advisor

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