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How Pakistani society has failed to protect its women

From Noor to Sara and all the unreported victims of heinous crimes across the country, this is a bitter reflection of core realities, which proves the alarming need for strict legislation against perpetrators. May there never be another hashtag for any human. 

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Patriarchy, sexism and misogyny entailing the ‘Boys will be boys’ attitude is a kind of deep conditioning that is rooted in our South Asian culture. Women are increasingly falling prey to toxic masculinity, a trend that is sadly normalized and accepted in our community. Only if we come out of the current denial mode we are in as a society and wake up to the startling reality of gender-related violence, only then can we head in the direction of an equal, just and thriving community.

Pakistani citizens and public figures are once again taking to their social media handle to condemn the rampant violence against women in the country as yet another gruesome murder of 37-year-old, Sara Inam, daughter-in-law of senior journalist Ayaz Amir was murdered in Islamabad. Sara was reportedly murdered with a dumbbell and her husband, Shahnawaz Amir is the prime suspect. #JusticeForSara has been trending on Twitter, the micro-blogging platform as Sara’s friends and colleagues demand justice for the Pakistan- Canadian national.

Read more: How International law is shaping policing of gender based violence in Pakistan?

Understanding the matter better

Many are comparing Sara’s case to that of Noor Mukadam’s, asking why it must always take a dead woman to become a top social media trend, which is eventually forgotten. Another woman was brutally murdered; another hashtag asking for justice. In February this year, Zahir Jaffer was handed down the death for the murder of Noor Mukadam, however, the sentence is yet to be carried out. Noor Mukadam’s murderer still lives. In Sara’s case, we hope that justice is seen to be done as justice delayed is justice denied. These are cases that are high profile and make it to Twitter trends.

Imagine the number of women who die at the hands of mentally deranged women whose cases go unreported whereby the number of such monsters who inflict brutality on women every day without being seen and without being noticed only because these victims were or are poor and unknown. These murders have sparked a debate on a plethora of issues related to gender violence, decaying morality, and sheltering harassers, and abusers. It is infuriating and unfortunate to realize that it could be any woman tomorrow, it could be someone we know, it could be a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance.

It could be anyone, just simply murdered without any repercussions. In February this year, Zahir Jaffer was handed down the death for the murder of Noor Mukadam, however, the sentence is yet to be carried out. Noor Mukadam’s murderer still lives. In Sara’s case, as horrific details unfold about the murder of Sara Inam, the entire country is hoping and praying that justice shall be seen to prevail as justice delayed is justice denied.

Emerging from such cases, comes the disturbing trend of victim blaming. Heinous crimes of murder, rape, acid throwing, etc often lead to systematic victim blaming which intentionally or unintentionally helps the perpetrators. When we focus on faulting the victim for her appearance and activities, we end up diverting attention from the crime. One reason why this happens is that stakeholders have incentives to cushion themselves from the responsibility of preventing such crimes.

Read more: Covid-19 intensified ‘Gender-Based Violence’ in Pakistan, but how?

Instead of questioning the character of the victims, the need of the hour is better parenting where we raise sons as not a privileged gender but rather a responsible one. Our brothers and sons ought to be brought up as men who are empathetic, kind, humane, fair, compassionate and respectful to the women around them. Being born a man does not justify any sense of entitlement or give them a license to threaten women’s agency and exploit their vulnerabilities.

Parents need to be more mindful while raising their sons and ensure they do not get away with any indecent or nonsensical behavior. The elders comprising fathers, brothers and uncles around male children and adolescents should become role models for them to show that caring for others’ well-being does not take away but adds to their manhood. Raising sons means creating responsible men of the future; men with integrity and heart; men who know how to respect and treat women as equals and men who know how to be gentle. Let us teach our sons how they are all the sons of Adam which implies that being human is their only identity and being a good human being their sole purpose of being. What we need are widespread awareness programs to address this problem of male superiority in our society.

Human life is a gift of God and precious

Nobody has thus the right to harm any living being, be it a woman, man, child, transgender, or animal under any motive or circumstance. A comprehensive approach is required where parents, teachers, the state, police, judiciary, clergy, politicians and the media need to play their respective roles to address rising incidents of gender-based violence cases reflecting our moral decadence. It is our moral responsibility to call out men in our homes and social circles with symptoms or history of any abnormal predatory behavior.

Read more: Punjab Police assemble against gender-based violence

If we fail to do so then we have no right to cry foul whenever such sad incidents happen as we are all then enablers to such crimes. We hope that Sara’s ghastly murder does not fade away into oblivion and is not merely reduced to another hashtag for justice but actually translates into a watershed moment and stirs our collective conscience to address the root causes of such crimes including institutional and social failures to emerge as a real civilized nation. From Noor to Sara and all the unreported victims of heinous crimes across the country, this is a bitter reflection of core realities, which proves the alarming need for strict legislation against perpetrators. May there never be another hashtag for any human.

 

 The writer is an ex-banker and a freelance columnist. She can be reached at tbjs.cancer.1954@gmail.com. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.