By Meerum Awan.
The lockdown brought the curtain down on so many issues that we were avoiding because we could. Now that couples had to stay indoors for days on end, Punjab authorities observed a 25% increase in the number of domestic violence cases since the lockdown was imposed. Only in eastern Punjab!
In a report by the Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), it was reported that crimes against women increased by 200% in the first quarter of 2020. Along with that, the report noticed a surge of 360% in March 2020, alone.
The report also concluded, after collecting daily data of crimes of passion committed on the national and provincial level that women and children were on the receiving end of 90% of these crimes.
The director of SSDO, Kausar Abbas, informed that there was a huge growth in the cases of rape that were reported to the police and covered by the media. Yes!
The report also highlighted crimes against children being mostly driven by passion. Not just that, an astonishing increase in child abuse, child labor, and murder cases.
Despite these figures, why are we, as a pure Islamic nation, not offended? Still the same? And insensitive?
The official SSDO figures are also based on media coverage trends and compare cases reported in the media from 2019 to 2020.
There have been so many instances of these cases getting wide media coverage and yet, every report highlights how these figures could not be relied upon. As the patriarchal system of Pakistan doesn’t, as it happens, allow many of the cases of violence against women to get reported. For instance, 399 murder cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March 2020 but the police only received 25 calls!
In cases of honor killing, we see how families pardon their daughter’s killers without any agitation.
And yet, we’ve got the Prime Minister talking about how the Joint family system in Pakistan is our biggest asset as a nation.
Mr. Khan, What family system are you talking about?
The one in which women are silenced and forced into marrying partners that they don’t want to marry. The system in which the wife cannot dare to say no to sex. And god forbid giving birth to a daughter. The system that allows children in these nuclear systems to get sexually abused by their closest relatives. The system that inherently allows the objectification of women on every level possible. The system favoring the birth of a boy over a girl. The system favoring the education of the son over the daughter. The system which does not let women come back to their parents’ houses in case they want to get a divorce? The system that allows a man to be forgiven if he performs acts of infidelity but the same will never be possible for a woman. The system that confines women to the boundaries of the house and has the kind of domestic dynamics which subjugates them in ways that cannot be stopped without intervention and diehard rebellion. The system in which one woman is in charge of the entire in-law family along with the kids and the man-child she inherited because of the joint family system. The system in which the woman cooks and cleans, looks after the children, in-laws, and the husband is only responsible for finances? The system that allows women to be killed in the name of honor, to say nothing of disobedience. The system which allows women to get economically, domestically, and sexually abused by their husbands? The system which does not acknowledge marital rape as rape? The system which categorically denies shelter to a divorced woman? Even if the divorce occurred because the chai was not garam enough.
What family system are we talking about here?
We’ve also got a distressed Imran Khan over the increasing rate of divorces.
Mr. Khan, what is so upsetting about divorce?
The fact that it empowers women and gives them a second chance at life? The fact that 145% of women have experienced sexual intimate partner violence in the last 12 months. The fact that eastern Punjab authorities reported a 25% increase in domestic violence cases as soon as the lockdown was imposed. That is more upsetting than the increasing rate of divorces.
Let us be clear on why divorces are increasing in Pakistan. Unlike the prime Minister’s understating of this dilemma occurring because of “imitation of the west”, this marvel was solely caused by women empowering other women. This was a long struggle and now it’s paying off.
Another reason why we’re seeing so many increases in these cases being reported is that women are more aware of where to get help from. In many family systems in Pakistan, women are not able to leave their houses at all. So in such a system, if divorces start increasing, while the woman knows she can’t go back to her parents, can we say this is all caused by imitation of the west? (According to Imran Khan)
What makes a woman leave her house with no money and no support and in most cases, along with children?
The desire to be more western? More English? Or a genuine desire to provide for her family and become independent?