Female Oppression in Pakistan
Everything that a Pakistani woman’s life revolves around involves one word – honour. In Pakistan, women are expected to behave in a certain way because of honour. They dress for honour and veil themselves such that they will not attract men’s attention. They even die when they are dishonoured. However, this idea of honour is not what we would usually expect (integrity and morality) but is only a tool used in the possession and manipulation of the Pakistani women.
Every year, hundreds of women die because of honour killings. To keep women in their place, the dominating males will execute honour killings when the females have illicit relationships, choose their husbands or even for simply divorcing their husbands of arranged marriages. What is even more absurd is that women are killed when their male relatives rape them as well, as if these women are punished for their existence themselves.
“The brutal military dictator Zia-ul Haq imposed the "Hadood Ordinance" and other anti-women black laws to further facilitate the exploitation of women by capitalism. Even a "democratic" government headed by a woman prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, could not abolish these draconian laws because they were inherent to the system and its state.” - Sadaf Zahra, a female Pakistani journalist.
As a democratic country, it seems that Pakistan has not done enough to protect the rights of women and ensure that they are aware of such rights, since they are mostly limited to the sphere of their homes.
Even in the Pakistani law, women are disadvantaged. The government has done little to stop the traditional honour killings and have turned a blind eye to all sorts of violence against women, especially that of a husband’s violence towards a female. Some of the laws even have loopholes that men can find comfort in when they abuse the females. Section 300(1) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) reads: "Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, whilst deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation..." (Amnesty International Document, 1999) When the Pakistani men kill their women, they cite the shame that their women have brought them as the ‘sudden provocation’ to justify their abuse.
Oppressed by males such that they have no control over their freedom of speech, behaviour and their bodies, 82% of Pakistani women are subject to domestic violence by their fathers, brothers or husbands. It would be shameful for them to take legal action against any of their male relative so they are mostly persuaded out of it. Even if they do, women are treated as only half a witness as opposed to men, their testimonies being only half as valuable and reliable. Women are treated carelessly as objects and even in recent years when they have become more aware of their rights and have tried to fight the oppression, more and more violence have occurred.
As the men are resentful of the country’s inadequacies in providing a good life for the citizens, the social crisis in Pakistan is manifested in the oppression of the women. It remains one of the countries where atrocities against women are committed daily. The position of women in society entaisl that they have little opportunity to gain access to education. Movements to fight for women’s rights have also been suppressed and limited largely by both the legal system as well as the age-old notion that women are inferior and intellectually weak. In such a society, the balance between men and women are very largely skewed. Women are condemned to domesticity and are not appreciated for their efforts in the house but are treated as mere commodities.
With such oppression still present, the age-old struggle between men and women continues to modern-day. We hope that with international pressure and human rights activists influencing the government as well as the increasing modernisation that promises freedom and equality, Pakistani women will be able to break away from their reins and take charge of their lives, creating a balanced society.