It seems like these days, there is an ongoing series of violence against female gender in Pakistan. At least, the incidents in recent weeks tell us clearly: A 7-year-old. A mother of 4. A woman travelling. A girl going to the mosque. Someone’s girlfriend. Someone’s friend. A career-oriented woman. It is happening to everyone, all around us. We are living in a ‘cruel’ world where a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend, a co-worker, none is safe in this dreadful environment that has been developing over the past many years in Pakistan. Some have even named it ‘Femicide’ as the brutal murders continue to grow every day. With no punishment by law or any dire consequences for the perpetrators, our surroundings are persistently becoming unsafe and dangerous with each passing day.
What is ‘Femicide’?
Femicide, by definition involves the intentional murder of women simply because they are women, but to other broader definitions may include any killings of women or girls. Femicide is usually committed by men, but sometimes female family members may also be involved in carrying out the crime. Most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.
Intimate femicide is described as murder committed by a current or former husband or boyfriend, it is also known as ‘intimate partner homicide’.
‘Honour’-related murders involve a girl or woman being killed by a male or female family member for an actual or assumed sexual or behavioural transgression, including adultery, sexual intercourse or pregnancy outside marriage – or even for being raped at times.
Another form of murder of women linked to cultural practices is related to dowry. It involves newly married women being killed by in-laws over conflicts related to dowry, such as bringing insufficient dowry to the family. This can also be regarded as ‘Dowry-related femicide’.
Non-intimate femicide are committed by someone without an intimate relationship with the victim such as a stranger, rapist, kidnapper etc.
What is happening in Pakistan?
Pakistan has been progressing towards success recently in areas of technology, science, fashion and so on. Our country takes pride in including women to their workforce and recognising ‘Women’s Rights’. However, with the huge number of cases that have been arising of ‘violence against women’, it is hard to believe whether Pakistan has advanced at all. Every new day brings about another horrific event where the females of this country are becoming statistics and justice hashtags without the perpetrator actually getting punished. The law is failing and so is the system by not responding to this worrisome situation by introducing strict policies against the offenders. The whole nation cries and mourns for the beautiful souls that have left this world in horrible, unspeakable ways. Currently, the social media is exploding as both genders fight for basic ‘Humanity’. Just being a woman in Pakistan is scary as any girl is one man away from becoming another victim, another hashtag.
‘1994: Zainab Noor, aged 24 was tied to the bed and subjected to vaginal electrocution by husband Muhammad Sharif, based on mere cheating suspicions.’
‘2016: Qandeel Baloch, aged 25 was murdered by her brother M. Waseem for choosing to be a social media celebrity’
‘January 2018: Asma Rani was shot dead by Mujahid Afridi in Kohat for refusing his marriage proposal’
‘January 2018: Zainab Ansari, aged 7 was raped and murdered by Imran Ali on her way to Quran classes’
‘April 2018: Sana Cheema, aged 25 was murdered by her father and uncle in Gujarat for refusing to marry someone of their choice.’
‘Aug 2020: Dr Maha Ali Shah committed suicide due to rape, physical and mental torture at the hands of boyfriend Junaid Khan and his friend Waqas Rizvi.’
‘July 2021: Noor Mukaddam was tortured and beheaded by Zahir Jaffer in Islamabad for simply choosing to move on from an abusive relationship’
Just reading about these atrocities makes our hearts break and our bodies shiver, so think for a minute that actual living, breathing women have gone through these traumas and lost their lives. This surge in cases have brought about anger, resentment and rage inside each and every woman that lives in Pakistan which continues to grow more and more as none seem to get the justice they deserve. Our government is quiet, the officials are quiet, even the Prime Minister has no comments on the ongoing Femicide.
These were only those victims who came into the spotlight or whose cases were reported, there must be hundreds that are murdered in silence and the world does not even know about it. Pakistan needs protection laws for women, now more than ever in order to ensure their safety and security.
What can we do?
In a world of media, the most powerful weapon you have is your voice and your social account. Spread awareness to the masses and protest for the rights of the victims so they can be provided justice and the offenders can pay for the crimes committed. If you are a boy, ensure you are promoting a culture of safety and protection for the women around you so that they may feel comfortable and secure. Call out your harasser friends, give respect to your female friends, understand the importance of consent and develop your character so that no harm may be caused by your actions.
In order to be responsible citizens, we should keep in check for the people surrounding us. It is very important for parents to be open with their children so that if they are facing any kind of assault or harassment then their voice can be heard.
We must contribute to developing a nation which holds high values for its females and ensures for them a protected environment.