No Sanctuary for Women?

By: Arslan Rasheed Malik

The recent incident in which a woman was dragged from her car and sexually assaulted in front of her children has created a panic situation in the country. The incident has highlighted the dark side of society once again. The apparently looking civilized society has such a dark side in which women even the minors are safe from the hands of ill minded segment prevailing in the country. Motorway rape incident highlighted this issue, but this is not the only case of this kind. Instead, such news often surface on media in which women have been molested by the men. Just five days before the Motorway incident, a 5-year-old girl was raped, hit on the head and set on fire. In another bizarre incident, a civil judge at the lower court in Sindh has been accused of raping a woman on the pretext of ‘hearing’ her in his private chamber. In these three recent incidents mentioned above one can analyze the societal behavior towards women. In all the three cases, different entities of the society made women their prey. Such societal acts towards women have opened a new discussion. A new perspective that is being surfaced at various platforms is that an alone woman in this society is not safe. The proponents of this perspective ask females not to go out alone; instead they should be with their family members. So at this point there is strive need to see that what have been happening with the women by their own family members. Let me drive you to recent past to see some heart breaking incidents in which women faced worst brutalities by their family members. Saba was gunned down by her father in Lahore; Zeenat Bibi was burnt to death by her mother in low income neighborhood of Lahore; Sumaira’s throat was slit by her brother who murdered her by using a kitchen knife in Karachi; Khanzadi Lashari was killed by her husband on honeymoon night in Jacobabad; Muqaddas Bibi was killed by her family members in Gujranwala when she was pregnant for her second child; and many other women faced the same brutal acts. These all women were killed by their father, mother, brother, husband, and family members. In all these cases women were killed by their family members. The family members are usually considered as the custodians of women, but sadly, women are not safe from the hands of their custodians also. If family members’ behavior towards women is such a drastic then how we can expect a better behavior from society? Now let me take you to an extreme to discuss that what is happening to even dead women in our society. Women are not safe even after their deaths in this society. In a recent past, a man was arrested for raping women bodies at Joiya Sharif village. The accused Ashraf of Khanpur had been living with his nephew, who was the caretaker of a graveyard, for the last many years. The people, whose relatives were buried there, got suspicious when they found digging of graves. One night, the villagers caught accused Ashraf red-handed when he was raping a dead woman after exhuming her body. If women are not safe at home, not in the society, and even not after their deaths than does it not mean that women don’t have any safe place in this society? It is a time to take this issue seriously. Women are not safe in Pakistan both physically as well as mentally. They have to face violence and sometime mental torcher from their guardians. When they come out they face harassment either it is verbal one or physical one. There is no eye blinking from the fact that women in many other countries are facing even the worst situation than in Pakistan. But, there is no place for such incidents in Pakistan where the practicing religion, constitution, norms, and values give women a respectable status. But the sad reality is that despite this all the country has become a dangerous place for women. Due to the loopholes in the system the intensity of such incidents is continuously increasing. If such incidents would not be controlled then the foreign NGOs, which are already struggling to impose their agendas in Pakistan, will get a gateway to enter in the country with more support of the women from here. The factors which are involved in promoting such a drastic culture in Pakistan include the ill and boxed mentality of a particular segment of this society. Backed with some sexually depressed elements this particular segment of the society has basically challenged the values of the state. In response, state’s institutions seem to have failed in tackling this particular mind set. Sad reality is that these criminals often get the political support to escape. If they fail in escaping any how then the complications in our judicial system become a ray of hope for them. It usually happens that if the criminal is family member of the victim then the family usually dismisses the case and woman fail in getting justice. But, in the cases where state becomes the party to incident then the justice to that particular woman is often ensured. But the problem is that providing justice to a single woman is not enough. The need of the hour is to kill the mentality behind such incidents. State will have to make accused of such incidents an example for whole country. Besides strict punishments state should also work for character building so that the myopic mindset behind such incidents can be changed. A data base of DNA samples of the masses should be established to ensure the fast identification of the suspects involved in such incidents. But, it would be a long and time taking project. So, if our judiciary sets a precedent by giving punishment to all those who are accused of such violent acts then the intensity of these incidents could be minimized quickly.