Our heads hang in shame because of what happened on Independence day on 14th August 2021 at Greater Iqbal Park, Lahore. One wonders how and why young hooligans pounced on a girl to tear off her clothes brazenly in public. What does it reveal? What does it speak about the value system in our society? The answer to these questions lies in serious introspection by the state and society. There is a dire need to reflect on the myriad of abuse and violence against women. If we don’t jolt our collective conscience and take remedial measures, our society is bound to decay to the lowest level of degeneration.
Pakistan is a country with great commonalities between the dwellers in various provinces and areas. Concurrently, there are cultural differences and idiosyncrasies that make a colorful bouquet of our nation. Urban centers are more liberal towards women while they are treated differently in the rural areas. In remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Southern Punjab, certain primitive societal and tribal traditions can be somewhat against the basic rights of women. Feudal mindset is mostly behind the shabby treatment of women in rural areas. This goes without saying that many traditions and value systems also contribute towards the betterment of communities. Then, there is a contrast between the ways educated families treat their women as compared to those from uneducated or lesser educated families. Such differences aside, our country is governed under the constitution of Pakistan that guarantees the protection of life, property and dignity of every citizen irrespective of caste, creed and gender. This should be our guiding path and our collective strategies to combat violence against women should stem from it.
At the prima facie, there seems to be a serious flaw in law enforcement, prosecution and, above all, a highly inefficient judicial system. The decay is much more than what meets the eye. The basic problem is corruption which has permeated at all levels. Both society and the state do not know how to deal with this Frankenstein. The other issue is professional incompetence and inefficiency. Inequality before law adds fuel to the fire resulting in poor governance that has engulfed the entire nation. If the state puts these three things in order, things will improve including violence against women.
Pakistan is not the only country that suffers from this phenomenon of violence against women. India leads the list while the USA is ranked tenth in the list of most dangerous countries for women. Women are exposed to dangers in most of the world under given circumstances and places. Thus, there is always a need to exercise caution and preventive measures. Deplorable incident at Greater Iqbal Park should also be seen in this context. I leave this point here for the judgement of the readers.
Now, what about the responsibilities of the family. Our society exists within the family system wherein each member has a responsibility. Let us not lump the entire blame on the State and the Government in power as its representative. There is an obligation towards the families and parents as well. Parents should be and are responsible for the conduct of their children both male and female. Teach your sons to respect women. Teach them the right values. Same for the girls. While you may criticize the system, you are responsible for the safety and security of your children as their parents. Communicate with them like friends so that they can share everything without hesitation. Keep a strict vigil on their company, friends and acquaintances. Give them liberty but take due care so that it is not misused.
In essence, the bottomline is that whatever it takes, we need to ensure safety and security of our girls in every nook and corner of Pakistan. Towards this end, both state and the society has to play its vital role. Wake up Pakistan!