Assaults on women in Pakistan
Last week’s brutal death in an elite suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, is the latest in a string of assaults on women in Pakistan, where rights campaigners claim such gender-based assaults are on the rise as the country moves closer to religious extremism.
According to famous rights campaigner Tahira Abdullah, Mukadam was the daughter of a diplomat, and her standing as a member of Pakistan’s elite has shined a focus on the country’s unrelenting and escalating violence against women. However, the majority of women who are victims of domestic violence are from the country’s low and middle-class strata, and their deaths are either not reported or, when they are, are often misrepresented.
“I could give you a list longer than my arm, only in one week” of attacks against women, said Abdullah. “The epidemic of sexual crimes and violence against women in Pakistan is a silent epidemic. No one sees it. No one is talking about it.”
Noor was beaten repeatedly and when she jumped from a window to save herself, she was dragged back, beaten again and finally beheaded.
Despite this, Pakistan’s Parliament failed to adopt a measure this month to protect women from domestic abuse, including attacks by their husbands. Instead, it sought input from an Islamic ideology council – the same group that previously said it was acceptable for a husband to beat his wife.
According to a Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year, data collected from domestic violence hotlines across the country revealed a 200 percent spike in domestic violence between January and March of last year. According to the research, the numbers got considerably worse once COVID-19 lockdowns started in March.
Pakistan ranked 153 out of 156 nations in the World Economic Forum’s global gender index in 2020, ahead of only Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, which remained at the bottom despite billions of dollars invested and 20 years of international attention on gender issues.
Over 1,000 women become victims of honour killings in Pakistan each year.
In Pakistan, many of the attacks are so-called honour killings, in which the assailant is a brother, father, or another male family member. Human rights workers estimate that over 1,000 women are killed in this manner each year, with many of them going undetected.
Rights groups are also critical of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government, saying he panders to the religious right and excuses the perpetrators of attacks on women. He keeps close ties with a religious cleric who blamed COVID-19 on “the wrongdoing of women.” He once appeared to blame women for attacks by men saying, “if you raise temptation in society … all these young guys have nowhere to go, it has consequences in the society.”
Khan’s Cabinet minister, Ali Amin Gandapur, told a rally of thousands of mostly male supporters, that he would “slap and slap” a female opposition political leader.
Last September, a senior police officer blamed a woman who was ambushed and gang-raped in front of her two children, saying she should not have been travelling at night and without a man.
Such remarks reflect an increase in ultraconservative and even extremist religious values in Pakistan, said Amir Rana of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.
While researching on the current deplorable condition of Pakistan we found that Pakistan’s Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, introduced Islamic laws that, among other things, reduced women’s rights to inheritance, limited the value of their testimony in court and made reporting a rape almost impossible by requiring four male witnesses.
The spine chilling killing details of the 27-year-old, Noor Mukadam, compelled the youth of Pakistan to unite and raise their voice against the system. Noor was beaten repeatedly and when she jumped from a window to save herself, she was dragged back, beaten again and finally beheaded. A childhood friend who belongs to an influential family has been charged with her killing.
There are social media campaigns demanding justice for Noor and to preempt attempts to use influence and money to whisk the accused out of the country.
Noor’s case is a cry of all women in Pakistan. A reality which most of them dread to live.
Written by Prakriti S