Women in Pakistan
Woman, a term for respect and honor, implies very different status across classes, regions, and due to uneven socioeconomic development and the impact of tribal, feudal, and capitalist social formations on women's lives. The Pakistani women have better status than most of the other Muslim countries. However, in a male dominated society like Pakistan, women still have restrictions and are violated by men. The violence against women in Pakistan is a major problem. It takes a variety of forms, from domestic abuse and rape to child marriages and female circumcision (“women and violence”). Some females fall prey to violence before they are born, when expectant parents abort their unborn daughters, hoping for sons instead. There are many kinds of violence against women i.e. domestic violence, traditional practices, son preferences, dowry-related violence and early marriage, sexual Harassment.
1. Domestic Violence:
Domestic violence has long been considered a private matter by bystander including neighbors, the community and government, but such private matters have a tendency to become public tragedies. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in the 400 cases of domestic violence reported in 1993 in the province of Punjab, nearly half are ended with the death of the wife.
2. Traditional Practices:
In Pakistan, because of traditional practices, women became victims of cruel practices which violate their rights. These tradition are so deeply rooted that they can be harmful in both physically and psychologically ways. These traditions are transferring from one generation to another, and women are being dominated every year. They cannot raise their voices and cannot say no. There is no solution for these practices unless men have to understand the value of woman and respect their point of view.
3. Preferences for sons:
Son preference affects women significantly in Pakistan. Some women choose to terminate their pregnancies when expecting daughters but carry their pregnancies to term when expecting sons. Mostly people neglect girl child over boy child for basic needs e.g. health and education.
4. Dowry-related violence and early marriage:
In Pakistan, brides’ family has to pay specific amount of money or thing to precede the marriage. If they fail to do pay, it can cause violence. Early marriage, especially without the consent of the girl, is another form of human rights violation. Early marriage followed by multiple pregnancies can affect the health of women for life.
5. Sexual Harassment:
In Pakistan, sexual harassment is more common even on street. The boys touch women, and use slang word. In addition, it is more common on work place. Employers abuse their authority to seek sexual favors from their female co-workers, sometimes promising promotions or other forms of career advancement. But now a day, women are moving forward to report such harassment. (UNDPI) They are aware of self respect, and they can defend themselves. Even though they are moving forward to report this type of cases, society is not cooperating with them. They are not being appreciated for this act. Every one still blames them. Family member scold them for reporting it. They are being told that if someone touches you or disturbs you, you just have to ignore him and stay silent.
Pakistani women not only face many problems about violence, but also in every sector they have to struggle for their rights. For instance, in education sector women especially young girls have to struggle a lot to study. Women face significant inequality in educational attainment as compared to men. According to 1992 survey 22% women and 47% men (who are above age 15) were educated. The situation of women who are living in rural areas is even poorer. Only 11%women are literate in Punjab. The situation is the most critical in NWFP and Baluchistan, where the female literacy rate stands between 3 % and 8%. Poverty is big hurdle in the way of female education. The reason behind this low percentage is the in-equal chances in education for women. The enrollment of the girls is less than the boys at primary, middle and high level. (“Situational analysis of women education”) This situation leads women to ignore study, so they don’t want to join schools. If they do not join schools or universities, they will be uneducated for their entire life. They will not have awareness by which they could teach their children; as a result, whole society will be uneducated. This will have severe effect on the economy and development of Pakistan.
But, Pakistani government never takes women education seriously. It was once implicit that the reason behind low female education was culture, but research conducted by the Ministry for Women's Development and a number of international donor agencies in the 1980s discovered that danger to a woman's honor was parents' most crucial concern (“U.S. Library Congress”).As people are more aware of importance of education by media, the government is taking many steps to improve the women’s education. Political parties and NGOS are working actively to promote women education. Nawaz Shrief, a leader of a political party, introduces 25,000 schools for women and girls. Media is convincing people to send their daughters to schools, but people from villages and town are still confused. (“Aamir latif”) Parents cannot prevent their daughter from study, and they ought to not prefer sons instead of daughters.
For years, the role that a woman played as a citizen, a member of the family or a homemaker has been highly undermined, and today it has turned into a tradition to degrade a woman’s ability. They have to struggle in every field of life for their rights whether its family life or social life. People never let them to be independent. They struggled for independence within an already independent country. However, over the years this circumstance has changed, and women have awareness of their abilities; they know what they can do for their selves, and for other women, they know their stamina and how much and which work they can do, their rights and their status has reached almost all parts of Pakistan, which is an underdeveloped third world country. New young women of Pakistan are more aware of their responsibilities and capabilities. They are more ambitious in every field of life whether its education or politics. Pakistani women who did not know their rights few years ago are now taking part in politics and are fighting for their rights. Begum Mehnaz rafi, a political and social worker, introduce women to politics in Pakistan. Many women who joined the politics are threatened by many people. However, the Pakistan government led by President Pervez Musharraf encourages the women who work in politics (“Women in politics”). Now in Pakistani government, there are reserved seat for women in national assembly and provisional assembly. There are currently 60 women in the National Assembly, and the Senate is 17 seats for women. Almost 22 percent of provincial government leaders and 28 percent of local government leaders are also women. In provincial assemblies 390 from Punjab, 171 from Sindh, 130 from NWFP, and 67 from Baluchistan are representing women of all provinces. (IFES).These seats enable women to think confidently and work for their rights. They can work for other women who suffer from different kinds of violence. They can make community better than before. They are determined to change the status of future women.
Male dominate women in every part of Pakistan whether it is Punjab where some women know about their rights or Sindh where women don’t know their rights at all. Punjab is the largest province of Pakistan according to population. 64% of total Punjab population is living in rural areas. Among those women only 15% women can read and write. The main reason behind this is that the parents don’t want their daughters to study; they think that if they give education to their daughter, it means they are fertilizing their neighbor’s crops. The effects of this thinking are severe e.g. prevalence of many diseases. They don’t know about their health and safety. They are not being told by any one that how they can look after themselves. This is illiteracy about health and safety can cause maternal mortality and infant mortality. This can also permeate many diseases for example HIV/AIDS on larger scale and T.B, malaria, diarrhea on smaller scale. (“U.S. library congress”) .To improves this condition people should corporate with the NGO’s and social worker. They ought to think positively about the education of the women and their rights.
In short, the situation of women in Pakistan is becoming worse and worse every day. They are not thinking about their rights. They don’t know what they can do if someone behave with them badly. They don’t know how brave they are. Now it is their time to take valid steps to upgrade their status. They have to take their rights and use them. They don’t have to listen to society otherwise they will never raise their status and become strong.