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Gender violence, law & power

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By: Rumisa Malik

Custom and law as a cultural concept had a dichotomous as well as a dialectical relationship in anthropology. It has been variously suggested that an analytical separation and, at other times, an overlapping and intertwining relationship exists between custom and law.

Although the custom of putting people to death for sexual transgression is known to occur all over rural Pakistan, upper Sindh is identified as the region in which karo-kari is most prevalent.

Upper Sindh stands out as a conceptual postcolonial frontier where the indirect policy of the state is implicit and extreme violence is seemingly legitimized through law and formal power.

In upper Sindh, not a single day passes without reports of killing of a woman under the ostensible karo- kari slogan.

On average, approximately more than 200 cases occur every year.

The Sindh Assembly passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act on 8 March 2013.

The Balochistan Assembly passed“The Balochistan Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act” on 1 February 2014 and the Punjab Assembly passed “The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2016” on 24 February 2016.

The landmark Domestic Violence (prevention and protection) Act also passed in 2012 by the Pakistani Senate defines domestic violence as including, “all acts of gender-based and other physical or psychological abuse committed by a respondent against women, children or another vulnerable person.”

According to the definition “attempt at assault, criminal force, criminal intimidation, emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, physical abuse and economic abuse as some of the actions that fall under domestic violence.”

We have so many cases of honor killing, domestic violence and much more in which the recent case of domestic violence was reported on December 2020 in Faisalabad, where a young brother killed his sister over a domestic dispute. According to the area police that Shafqat the murderer exchanged harsh words with his sister he got infuriated and gunned down her.

Another incident occurred in December 2020 in Faisalabad as a woman committed suicide over a domestic dispute, local police said that Rasheedan Bibi swallowed poisonous pills after quarrelling with her in-laws over a domestic issue. Another incident occurred in Sialkot in November 2020 as a man stabbed his wife to death over a domestic dispute.

The Thompson Reuters Foundation conducted a survey in 2019 that ranked Pakistan as the sixth most unsafe country for women. Sexual violence, non-sexual violence, human trafficking, and discrimination remained some top of the list of sources of violence inflicted upon women.

In a report by the Human Rights Watch, it was revealed that activists estimate that about 1,000 honor killings happen in Pakistan every year.

According to the 2019 Women, Peace and Security Index, Pakistan ranks 164th out of 166 when it comes to women’s safety and protection.

 In May 2018, the National Assembly passed ‘The Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2017’. It promises free medical treatment and rehabilitation for acid attack victims and also expedites conducting trials of accuse.

Five years tenures of govt. Our National and Provincial assemblies make laws and pass bills regarding women protection and for justice but despite all that, unfortunately, till today our women are facing and murdering innocently at the name of karo kari or honour killing.

It means the government has failed to implement their laws properly, hence woman still suffering from gender violence.

High rates of violence against women, including harassment in the workplace, make women reluctant to work for their own protection, especially if they have to travel long distances.

The government has taken steps to protect women, but due to the reactionary thinking of the society, the goals of empowering women are not being achieved as well as public places and national life for women and girls as per the constitution of Pakistan I could not provide a safe environment.

It is a fact that the thinking of the society can change only when there is a continuous effort for social inclusion and gender equality.

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