As Pakistan is moving towards being an economically sound country, the situation for the 52 percent of the country’s population which compromises of women is not catching up with the speed. One of the recent improvement efforts is the introduction of Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2009, the first legislative step of its kind in the history of the country, which covers effective legal measures, civil remedies and compensatory provisions for the aggrieved persons. Stories like that of 17-year-old Mafia Bibi from Sahiwal city keep plunging us back into the dark realities of where our society actually stands today. Mafia’s brother brutally chopped off her head, ears and nose in the name of ‘honour.’ According to the local newspaper, Mafia had allegedly eloped with the man she loved. The family hunted the couple down and brought them back. It was decided that the two would be married off but in the meantime her brother indulged in the cold-blooded act. Many cases of this nature go un-reported. In most reported cases, like that of Mafia’s, the police and the judiciary manage to develop a soft spot in their hearts for the abuser, as the victims are thought to have provoked the abuser to do this. Women are confined to the house, which is considered to be the safest place for them. The same home has the potential to become the deadliest place to be, if as a woman she fails to comply with the archaic social and cultural norms.
Honour killing is an extreme form of domestic violence, executed by male family members when they feel that the woman has stepped out of the moral boundaries and freedom allotted to her. Honour, in this case is always related to the actions of the women. People go to extremes in order to ‘preserve’ the family honour. According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 647 out of the 1404 women murdered were honour killings in the year 2009. In the sub-continent culture, it is of utmost importance that the female sexuality remains under the control of men. A woman challenges the inherent superiority of the males in her family when she chooses her own marriage partner. This is an act that does not go un-punished. Punishment becomes a necessity so that other women do not follow the same footsteps. The family honour is traditionally associated with the nose in the sub-continent region’s local traditions. An old proverb implies ‘cutting the nose’ with bringing shame to the family by one’s actions. This is why punishment for women in most cases has been the age-old ritual of literally cutting off the nose of the victim as seen in Mafia’s case.
Please find my full post about domestic violence in Pakistan and the proposed legal reforms to combat it: Will ‘Domestic Violence’ legislation protect Pakistani Women?