Misogyny – the hatred of women – occurs almost uniformly throughout the world. To give you an idea, have a look at the United States where a woman is physically assaulted usually by an intimate partner every 15 seconds and more than three women are murdered by their male partners every day. In Pakistan, approximately 70% to 90% women are subjected to domestic violence of varying mental, physical, sexual and emotional nature. Furthermore, younger women are more susceptible to experience violence from male counterparts in private and domestic spaces. Although public health professionals and policy and decision makers have attempted to propose more solid legal frameworks to address these social mores, opposition has always existed. And this time, it wasn’t from patriarchal heads but women themselves.
The issue took place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly wherein members from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl disagreed with the passage of a bill that focused on domestic violence. They argued that the definition of domestic violence was ‘western’ and that it was a conspiracy to alter Pakistani society through ‘westernized propaganda’. Naturally, the absurdity of the flawed argument offended the organizers of the event – Shirkat Gah and Provincial Commission on the Status of Women – but it failed to surprise anyone.
It is cringe-worthy that our supposedly concerned politicians are still more invested in delineating the western or eastern nature of terms while nearly 451 women have been killed in Pakistan in terrifying cases of domestic violence. It is even more shameful that we are told that sending the perpetrator is akin to ‘breaking the household’ as if subjugation is the bedrock of a sound family. With such uncomprehending members – apparently our ‘sisters’ – sitting and mulling in our assemblies, we can easily imagine the bleak future of women – especially young ones – perpetually suffering debilitating abuse by men in their households.