Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

23 January 2020, Thursday

PTI Senator criticized for “honour killing” comments

PML-N Senator Pir Sabir Shah comments family setups are crumbling in the name of liberating women.

PR Daily Brief | Lakshmi V Menon

On 18 January 2020, the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Inssaf’s Senator Mohsin Aziz, while attending the annual report of National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), said: “Honour killing is an issue, but honour and culture are also important,” enflaming criticism and rage. He added that women must live abiding Islamic Sharia and further condemned NGOs for raising gender equality slogans on International Women’s Day. The opposition reacted through harsh criticism.

PPP Parliamentary leader Shery Rehman accused Aziz of exploiting culture and religion to oppress women. She said: “We (women) are neither a second gender nor will we condone honour killings in this house.”

PML-N Senator Pir Sabir Shah commented that while discussions and deliberations regarding women’s rights and freedom are important, family setups are crumbling in the name of liberating women.

By emphasizing on honour and culture Aziz attempted to downplay the issue of honour killings, leaving an impression of supporting the problem. 

The very fact that such an argument has occurred in Pakistan’s Senate illustrates the pitiable state of women’s affairs in Pakistan. As per the NCSW report, in 2017, 40 cases of acid attacks and 1882 cases of violence against women were reported in Punjab province (21% increase); 1000 in Lahore and 756 in Muzaffargarh. Based on the report, Jamaat e-Islami senator Mushtaq Ahmed and PTI Senator Ezdi highlighted the lack of over 12 million women registered with NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) in the electoral polls. 

Pakistan’s Chief Justice recently announced the setting up of over 1000 courts to prosecute violence against women. Despite a few governmental efforts, extensive work is required for the upliftment and security of home-based workers and rural women. The NCSW is already facing hindrances in abundance due to lack of resources.

According to reports, from 2011 to 2017, over 51,241 cases of violence against women were reported but the conviction rate remained as low as 2.5%. Between 2004 and 2016 over 15,000 cases of honour crimes, 1800 cases of domestic violence and 5500 kidnappings of women were reported. Every year over 1000 girls from minority communities (Hindu and Christian) are forced to marry Muslim men. Women from minority communities are particularly prone to abuse.

Pakistan’s ranking as the sixth most dangerous country for women globally can be attributed to a systematic problem –  patriarchal attitudes. Structural violence against women manifests in sexual crimes, honour killings, domestic violence, kidnappings, forced marriages, acid attacks etc. are rising rapidly. 

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