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End femicide

The recent incidents of killings and sexual assault against women have once again raised concerns about women’s safety in the country. It has also exposed the toxic misogyny in our societies where women are targeted and then victimized if they dare to stand up for their rights.

Unfortunately, such incidents are expected in our society where such attitudes are practiced at home. From a young age, boys are taught to be brave and instructed ‘don’t cry’ but girls are regarded as soft and weak. Our male chauvinistic society prefers sons over daughters and discriminates against girls. These women become victims of domestic abuse and violence perpetrated by fathers, husbands and partners.

Men in Pakistan are not held accountable for gender-based crimes. Horrific crimes such as acid attacks are blamed on jilted lovers and ‘honour killings’ are considered a personal matter settled within families. Incidents of domestic violence and marital rape are hardly even reported or even recognized. The toxic investigation process and humiliation faced by women are some of the reasons why they chose to not report them. We are still living in an archaic society where women are expected to serve men or face the consequences.

These issues of crimes against women are present in all segments of society. Women from privileged backgrounds are also the victim as in the high-profile case of Noor Mukadam, who was brutally tortured by a sharp-edged weapon before being beheaded. The only thing common is that women are being targeted by deranged and abusive men who are often part of their lives. Those who chose to step outside such toxic relationships are also targeted.

This has also raised concerns about women’s safety in our country and how they should remain prepared for any eventuality. We need to end toxic masculinity in our society. We can’t develop as a society if half the population remains unsafe. We could call out men with predator instincts importantly, we need to create a society where women are safe and open up about conversations of abuse and violence. Our religion has taught to practice kindness toward women. We have negated those teachings and have made abhorrent practices a norm. It is necessary to enact laws and hand over swift punishment to such criminals. We need to recognise the rampant problem of femicide to save their lives.