14 Jan 2018/Sunday.
In recent times Pakistan has got a lot of negative publicity, as a self-harming nation. Our political and social values of women are stuck in the medieval period. Women in neighbouring countries including India where our politicians highlight atrocities on women have progressed by leaps and bounds. We blindly trusted our Bureaucrats and Military leaders and they have been plundering our nation. We are projecting Pakistan as a progressive Islamic country with Nuclear capability. Till now Political leaders and diplomats alike have brought disgrace to Pakistan in the international arena. If we introspect into our own country religious leaders are not far behind. Whatever happens to the people of Pakistan will lose their future by becoming a self-harming nation.
Violence against Women in a Self-Harming Nation
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has prepared an annual report recording gang rapes,
kidnapping, acid attacks, amputations, burnings etc. It said almost 800 women killed themselves or attempted suicide in 2015. Due to the pressure from religious groups, the annual report has not been published for 2016 and 2017.
A report of 2016 also has details of progress made by women in Pakistan. It has detailed report on first women firefighter and rickshaw driver. However, the report also emphasizes lack of judicial recourse. All mainstream Islamic political parties are among those opposing the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2015 and threatening to launch nationwide protests. The Council of Islamic Ideology, the powerful constitutional body which advises the Pakistani government has its reservations on the Act. It has declared the protections and punishments stipulated are “un-Islamic”.
In contrast, the example our politicians quote for all the ills in the society i.e. India has progressed very well. Women, there have progressed in society and head major corporations. Two girls aged 19 and 23 have undertaken a cycle trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari which is southernmost tip of India. They undertook this trip to spread awareness on pollution and their PM’s message of’Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao‘ (BBBP) scheme. One of its largest private sector banks i.e. ICICI Bank is headed by women named Ms Chanda Kochhar is the Managing Director & CEO. There are many businesses headed purely on the shoulders of women. There are more than 1000 women entrepreneurs in India. This is despite the fact that globally India also has to work a lot when compared to countries like the UK, USA, and Canada. Pakistan is nowhere in the comparison list.
Each of the top 50 Indian business houses lead by women have turnover higher than ten top businesses in Pakistan. It is not that Pakistani women are a shade lower than Indian women but it is a fact that they are victimised as objects of sex and not individuals having character. Many religious leaders are actively propagating kidnapping of women from religious minority groups and convert them by forcefully marrying them. If that Is not possible then selling them to militant and terror groups as slaves.
Aneela, 22, belongs to a family separated at partition. She is one of the 13 siblings of a Lahore-based family. In February a few years back she went to Jaipur with her mother on a tourist visa to visit relatives. In Jaipur, she ended up marrying one Abdul Aziz, then 26-year-old semi-precious stones dealer in Jaipur. For Aneela herself, it was a new-found freedom of watching movies in cinema halls and not on video like in Lahore. Her in-laws were more than happy with her and the Pakistani delicacies she made. “People here are loving,” says Aneela, “There is a certain warmth in relationships”, she adds. There are more than 40 brides from Pakistan in Jaipur who vouch for the same experience. Many of them have started their own ventures in Jaipur. Does this not give a glimpse of power held within each Pakistani woman?
If given an opportunity a Pakistani woman can grow and prove her worth. She is a woman who has talent and dreams but suppressed due to dictates and fatwas from Islamic clerics.
However, the reverse of the same is not true. Recently Uzma a woman from Delhi was forcefully married to a Pakistani man. She became friendly with Tahir Ali while working in Malaysia. She had crossed into Pakistan on May 1, 2017, and was drugged by her friend Tahir Ali and married her forcibly and assaulted her. Even the judiciary of Pakistan had not held the hands of Tahir Ali in this case. This also brought a lot of shame to Pakistan as a Self-Harming Nation.
Quandeel Balouch was a Pakistani Model, actress, and social media celebrity. On the evening of 15 July 2016,Quandeel Baloch was drugged by her brother and then asphyxiated while she was asleep in the house where her parents live in Multan. According to her brother, Waseem Azeem, who confessed to the murder claimed she was “bringing disrepute” to the “family’s honour”. There was widespread agitation across Pakistan leading to Pakistan passing an anti-honour killing law.
In spite of the anti-honour killing law on September 20, a man in Peshawar killed his two daughters. He thought they had boyfriends, and felt “ashamed”. The latest in a series of recent horrific acts of violence perpetrated in the name of “honour.” Many unreported incidents are happening rampantly in Pakistan in the name of honour killings.
Recently in November 2017, a 16-year-old girl was paraded half-naked by armed men in a remote of north-west of claiming it for redeeming family honour. The girl was attacked in broad daylight and had to undergo the ordeal as her brother had an affair with a local villager. The culprits have been arrested by the police.
In July 2017, A Jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment. This punishment was given to her as her brother had raped a 12-year-old. The girl was forced to appear before the group and raped in front of them and her parents.
In 2002, a Jirga ordered the gang rape of Ms Mukhtar Mai, whose 12-year-old brother was accused of an affair with an older woman. Ms Mai took her rapists to court. This was an act of extraordinary courage in Pakistan, where sexual assault victims are considered as a stigma. If this is not the end even now a seven year old girl Zainab who was kidnapped, raped killed and dumped in Kasur was raped, killed and dumped. Zainab’s rape and murder resulted in widespread anger on social media. There is hashtag #JusticeforZainab that is now top trending on twitter. We can see how such an incident has garnered so much support and making Pakistan a Self-Harming Nation.
There have been many reports of men stoning women in our country for silly or simple reasons for no wrong on their part. Women have been stoned for just owning a mobile phone. In last quarter of 2013, a mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order ofa tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone. Arifa Bibi’s uncle, relatives and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was later buried in a desert far from her village. There were no arrests made as stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. Campaigners fear this form of barbaric execution is on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Honour Killings in Self-Harming Nation
In another incident on 15 May 2017, 15 member Jirga, a traditional assembly of elders, in Makol village near Abbottabad, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ordered the killing of a girl. The girl named Amber, was later kidnapped, drugged and killed. She was later put inside a vehicle and burnt alive. This was a punishment for helping her friend to marry of her own free will. 13 people have been arrested in this incident. Nearly 1,100 women were killed as honour killings. This was done mostly by relatives who believed they had dishonoured their families, a report by the country’s independent Human Rights Commission said.
This shows that we as a society have a long way to get maturity. We are seeking to be a progressive Islamic country with Nuclear weapons. However, we do not know how to treat our women. We punish women of Pakistan for taking birth in a country which is under Islamic clerics. These clerics interpret Sharia as they want and favouring a particular sect of society every time. They even have changed the tone and tenure of their language to increase intolerance to the modern way of thought. It would be better if we honour our women and recognize their skills and talent. This will help us in growing into a balanced great nation as compared to a Self-Harming Nation.