The last few months have seen a significant rise in crimes against women in Pakistan. In July four persons were arrested in Islamabad for sexually abusing, torturing and blackmailing a couple. Noor Mukadam, daughter of a former diplomat was found decapitated at the house of a family friend in the capital city. In Karachi, Quratulain, a well-educated housewife with children was murdered by her husband. What happened on 14 August, celebrated as the day when Pakistan came into existence, was most shameful. A young woman who was filming a video at the Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore along with six companions was attacked by a big mob. According to a report registered with police the crowd pushed and pulled her, tore her clothes and kept throwing her in the air. Besides being robbed of their mobile phones and money, her companions were also beaten up.
What is quite common in this country in such cases is victim blaming. The PM has taken notice of the incident and has reportedly ordered strict action. What needs to be done by the political leaders is to inculcate respect for women among their followers, which has not happened. Last month a PTI Minister talked about battering the face of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz to make people see how she looked without facial surgery.
Women have no place in the list of the country’s textbook heroes. There is no mention of Fatima Jinnah, who led the struggle against Ayub’s dictatorship. No place for Asma Jahangir the great fighter for human rights recognized all over the world. Prejudice against women is responsible for not a single woman having been ever appointed as a Supreme Court judge in the country’s history.
Those behind the August 14 attack need to be punished according to law. But laws alone can’t fix Pakistan’s moral and social degeneration. What needs to be done over a longer period is for the government to take proactive measures to raise the image of women as equal citizens. Text books should project women’s achievements. Political parties should issue tickets to women to fight elections instead of being nominated as lawmakers. Any minister displaying misogynist tendencies should be taken to task.