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Where Is The Outrage Over Rising Cases of Violence Against Women?

Cases of violence against women are on the rise in Pakistan these days with several cases of abuse and torture reported from various cities in a week alone.

On Wednesday, police arrested two men in Lahore for allegedly torturing one suspect’s wife over her refusal to dance for them. The victim Asma Aziz, had been married to her husband for four years.

Her husband along with two of his employees tortured her and shaved her head over her refusal to dance in front of them. The woman posted a harrowing video on social media detailing her ordeal after which users demanded the authorities to arrest the culprits.

Separately, three men were arrested and sent to jail on judicial remand for allegedly raping their sister in Golra Sharif on Thursday.

A senior police official said that three men were allegedly involved in sexual assault of their own sister. One of the suspects was a religious scholar who delivered religious sermons on social media. The other two were labourers.

Meanwhile, police in Dera Ghazi Khan raided a marriage ordered by a panchayat (local village council) between a 45-year-old man and a minor girl. According to officials, the raid was conducted in Qasba Pir Adil on basis of information they had received. An 11-year-old girl was being married off to the 45-year-old man in accordance with a punishment sanctioned by the panchayat. Jirgas and panchayats in rural areas of the country are notorious for their role in forced marriages, conversions and even heinous crimes like rape and murder. Police is often found protecting these jirgas as they are led by the influential tribal leaders who operate hand-in-glove with the police officials.

In another incident, father of a minor Hindu girl in Umarkot, Sindh claimed she was kidnapped from the Jam Khan Pitafi village at gunpoint. He feared the suspect may subject her to forcible conversion to Islam. In a separate incident last week, a Christian woman and mother of three was kidnapped and later forcibly converted to Islam by influential elements. Her husband claimed that the police obtained a forced confession about her converting to Islam. Judicial inquiry on Thursday confirmed that it was indeed a case of forced conversion to Islam.

In Sargodha, a nine-year-old boy allegedly shot dead his sister, who, too, was a minor. Police claim a dispute pertaining to her marriage led to the murder. Ali Hassan, 9, reportedly killed his sister, 12-year-old Kausar, in Birbal Sharif. After committing the crime, he, alongside his father, then fled the house and are still reportedly at large.

It is alarming that all these incidents have taken place in a week alone. And these are only the incidents that made it to news. Many such cases often go unreported as many women prefer to suffer in silence than approach the police.

In the post-Aurat March debate, those hating on the march were denying the prevalence of such crimes against women, suggesting that the march was merely an attention-seeking practice. Some also questioned why such marches are needed because women already have all the rights in Pakistan. A brief look at the newspapers over the past few days would tell them that the state of women rights in Pakistan is rather bleak. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly passed a resolution against the Aurat March, terming it ‘vulgar’ and ‘against our culture’. Will the lawmakers pass a resolution against the growing cases of violence against women as well or the outrage is reserved for when women challenge the patriarchy and stand up for themselves?

The government as well as media remain in denial about the state of women rights in Pakistan. It is unfortunate that mainstream media used the Aurat March hype as a means to get ratings and gave space to voices that threatened the organizers of the march.It is about time we understood the gravity of the issue and stop this violence and abuse. Parliamentarians who were quick to condemn the Aurat March and term it ‘vulgar’ should be asked if these incidents of violence against women do not merit condemnation.


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