The Stream

What should Pakistan do to end violence against women?

On Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 19:30 GMT:
Shocked by the recent gruesome murder of a prominent woman in Pakistan, activists are pressing authorities to address rising cases of gender-based violence within the country.

Noor Mukadam, a 27-year-old daughter of a former diplomat, was tortured and beheaded in late July by an acquaintance for allegedly rejecting his advances. Her death has reignited calls for reform in Pakistan, a conservative Muslim country where courts and laws have been accused of favouring perpetrators.

Pakistan has grappled with misogyny for decades. But coronavirus-related lockdowns are exacerbating the problems women face and have resulted in a huge spike in domestic violence incidents. Reported cases of slapping, pushing, kicking and other incidents jumped up to 40 percent in some parts of the country, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

Pakistan also continues to rank near the bottom of global gender indices when it comes to educational, political and economic opportunities for women. Some activists cite growing religious extremism as one reason why the crisis is getting worse.

However, government leaders often downplay the scope of the problem. In an interview late last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan said:

“You look at the situation in Pakistan even now, you look at the rape cases here, compare it to Western countries, they are minuscule compared to there. Yes, we have our issues, we have certain cultural problems, every nation has that. But that comes with cultural evolution, with education. But as far a women’s dignity goes, respect, I can say after going all over the world, this society gives more respect and dignity to women.”

Meanwhile, despite growing outcry, authorities recently tabled a domestic violence bill after objections from Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises lawmakers.

Activists are urging citizens to channel their grief into action “to create a Pakistan that does not just belong to men.” They say this can be done by pushing authorities to hold perpetrators accountable, organising online grassroots campaigns and increasing support systems for female survivors.

In this episode of The Stream we ask, what should Pakistan do to end violence against women? Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Alia Chughtai, @AliaChughtai
Senior Producer, Al Jazeera English

Nida Kirmani, @NidaKirmani
Associate Sociology Professor, Lahore University

Kanwal Ahmed, @kanwalful
Activist and Community Leader

Maleeka Bokhari, @MalBokhari
Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice