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Has Asma’s case exposed patriarchal predominance?


News Analysis |

In an alleged domestic violence case, police arrested a husband and his friend in Lahore on Wednesday for torturing suspect’s wife over her refusal to dance for them. According to a first information report registered on March 26, Asma Aziz’s husband of four years and two of his employees tortured her over her refusal to dance for them. The Punjab police in a statement said the incident had taken place in the city’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA) area.

Asma, in a video circulating on social media, claimed that her husband had “always hit her a lot”. “This time he took my clothes off in front of his employees. The employees held me as he shaved my hair off and burned it. My clothes were bloody. I was bound by a pipe and hung from the fan. He threatened to hang me naked.”

Moreover, she said that when she went to the Kahna police station to register a complaint, “they asked me for money”. She added that the police had, instead of providing her the FIR number or conducting a medical examination, asked her for money.

The said March garnered criticism from some segments of society who did not approve a non-traditional expression of women’s empowerment through placards.

As the video went viral on social media, Dr. Shirin Mazari, Minister for Human Rights, took the notice and shared details on Twitter. “Took notice and checked – my office was informed by SHO PS Kahna Lahore: Police has registered FIR and arrested both accused & booked under sections 337-v and 506. Medical report of the woman is awaited. One of the arrested is Faisal her husband,” she tweeted.

A social media user praised the power of social media which helped a woman get registered an FIR against. “Power of Social Media, Punjab Police Arrested, Asma Aziz,s Husband, and his friend. He tortured his wife refuse to Dance in front of his friends,” he tweeted.

Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace and Security index ─ among the five worst countries for women in the world. According to 2016 data, 26.8 percent of Pakistani women said they have experienced intimate partner violence.

Read more: Sharmeen Obaid’s ‘Aagahi’ will educate women on their legal rights

According to another report of the Aurat Foundation, Pakistan is a country where almost 70% of women are victims of domestic violence, at least once in their lives. This violence is generally committed by their intimate partners—husbands. These figures, however, do not include psychological violence, which is even more common in urban communities.

Recently, women held Aurat March on International Women’s day to demand an inclusive public sphere and complete end to all kind of violence against women in Pakistan. The said March garnered criticism from some segments of society who did not approve a non-traditional expression of women’s empowerment through placards.

Read more: Aurat March: What went wrong!

In the present case, a social media user asked if anyone from NGOs or women empowerment groups have contacted the woman who does not have a place to live. “Has any NGO gotten in touch with Asma Aziz (the girl who was abused and assaulted for not dancing for her husband’s friends) regarding finding her shelter and food and medical treatments? @nighatdad do you know of anyone who’s in touch with her or helping her?”

Analysts believe that Pakistan is going through a massive social change where primitive ideas about gender relations and power-sharing are increasingly challenged and being revoked to make society more inclusive and equal.

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