Menace of Domestic Violence in Pakistan

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Abdul Samad Khan

The Holy Quran holds each person accountable for their actions in this life. One of Islam’s major principles is to treat women gently. Women should enjoy the same fundamental rights as males, according to universal agreement. They must be handled with care. In contrast, girls are subjected to harsh and merciless treatment by their male colleagues. The nice image of a lady within the house is tainted by the cruelty of the male part or even other ladies in the house. Domestic abuse has been a long-running cycle for a long time. In this aspect, Pakistani dwellings paint a striking picture.
Domestic violence can easily be decoded as the violence perpetrated on a woman in her domestic life. This might be in a plethora of forms: physical, psychological, financial, emotional, etc. Physical violence starts with beating, hitting, or slapping a woman. She might be seen thrown onto a burning stove. She faces acid-throwing too. She is also tortured with a stick and thrown to the floor. Sometimes she is thrown against the wall. All these forms of physical violence are triggered largely by some key structural reasons.
The cycle of violence theory explains this as follows: as a man gets overwhelmed by many things, he just wants to relieve himself of the mounting pressure. Therefore, he does so by perpetrating violence on his female counterpart. Soon after, he starts realizing his mistake, embarks on showing himself guilty, starts repairing the damage and finally succeeds in restoring the pre-violence mode of his female counterpart. The theory elucidates that a man traps his female partner via his artificial sweetness, which is going to be lost soon when he feels pressured. Thus, the cycle of violence continues. Economically or financially, the woman is tortured or brought under violence in a way to make her dependent on a man for meeting her as well as her children’s needs. She is made subjugated to her male counterpart for getting some money. Whenever she seems to be at loggerheads with her husband over the custody of their children, only if they are divorced, she has a mounting problem ahead of how to cater to her children’s needs.
The learned helplessness theory reveals this scenario pretty well, where violence in a domestic arena is forgone only to ensure the fulfilment of basic needs. It means that women go through all the episodes of domestic violence just because they are helpless and dependent on their male counterparts. The radical feminists consider this to be the brainchild of the patriarchal society. The Marxist feminists view this to be engendered by capitalism which wants women to breed and serve the male workers working in factories whereas women are just supposed to be good housewives-unpaid labour.
Women are subjected to emotional violence in their houses. They are blackmailed for doing something which they would damn like to do. They are threatened with being divorced or left alone and helpless if they refuse to obey the masculinity of their counterparts. Since they are mostly paralyzed in the financial and economic arena, they can hardly stand for their rights against their male counterparts. Similarly, women are largely hoodwinked by bringing them under false and baseless promises to which most of them easily fall under their innocence and ignorance. Man does so because he wants himself to be the sole and unchallenged authority as propagated by the Power and Control Wheel theory.
The status of gender-based domestic violence in Pakistan is pretty much pathetic. According to the Human Rights Commission report, women face domestic violence in several ways. Women are usually thrown on the stove or made subject to acid attacks for several petty issues like dowry, among others. They are usually subjected to physical violence. Honour killing is a bad addition to the long list of violence perpetrated on women in the domestic arena. Some of the prevalent forms of physical violence committed in the domestic arena range from scratching, grabbing, shaking, slapping, twisting, and punching to even the use of weapons. The lack of education and proper awareness have kept women from getting their rights and standing for them. This makes them able to blindly follow what is asked for.
This is triggered in Pakistan largely by the poor plight of women’s rights. The popular slogan of women empowerment has yet to ensure as Pakistan ranked second (worst) last from the bottom in Global Gender Gap Report 2022, by World Economic Forum. This is so because poor women participate in education and economic fields. Moreover, they are still living in problematic health infrastructure. Thus, unless and until there is a proper mechanism for ensuring complete women’s participation, the menace of domestic violence can hardly be wiped out.
Apart from this, the patriarchal nature of our society instigates a man to behave like a real superior. This very sense of superiority leads to the subjugation of women. Often they are brought under several forms of violence just because of the detested desire of man to show himself a “man”. He is a man only if he can subjugate women properly. Such a patriarchal concept prevents women from getting empowered and enables them to accept the superiority of men and kowtow to all forms of violence perpetrated against them.
The aforementioned structural theories also contribute to the proper functioning of the domestic violence wheel. The psychopathic theory of violence shows the psychological disorder only for women and the intentional lust of the perpetrator to unleash violence first and then make sure to patch it up and then embark on violence and then reparation and thus the cycle goes on.
Pakistani society is a patriarchal society and almost a joint family system. A child( both boy and girl) brings up with all happening around him or her. Thus, family life and the environment do not leave them unaffected. The Learned Behavior Theory promotes the idea that a man commits violence against the female members of his family simply because of what he has seen, observed, and experienced in his family throughout his life. Similarly, the girls are made meek, mild, and gentle and the ones who are supposed and even expected to obey their male counterparts without even an iota of doubt. This unquestioned obedience is acceptable only if it is not in contradiction to the efforts taken towards the fulfillment of the basic fundamental rights of women. Thus, the family environment, especially a patriarchal one, massively affects the attitude and behavior of both men and women which in turn plays a key role in determining their future role towards each other.
Though the entire bed of gender plight in Pakistan is not without thorns, the curse of domestic violence takes center stage and commands a lot of attention whenever there is a discussion about gender or even women’s issues. From the works of the Aurat Foundation to Woman’s Day and the first wave of feminism to the third and fourth waves, all have highlighted the core issues of women in particular and gender in general. The aforementioned plight of domestic violence in Pakistan unveils its seriousness and demands to be set aside. Pakistan needs to regularize properly the solution to this menace. The different legislative measures regarding the eradication of the curse of domestic violence and the provision of women’s protection need proper implementation. The judiciary must be active in this case thereby barring the perpetration of domestic violence via mending judicial walls. The executive and administrative branches must ensure the provision of education and women’s participation in the economic field. The issue of women’s health exacerbates their poor status in the domestic arena. The patriarchal saga can largely be turned down by spreading public awareness and education. The role of the mosque and religious scholars is deemed to be the key to undoing the scourge of domestic violence.
In a nutshell, women are not free from gender inequality and gender-based imparities even in their homes. They are often mistreated and even brought under different forms of violence as mentioned above, which are triggered by multiple reasons. The lack of education, socio-economic empowerment and the deleterious fabric of patriarchy have paved the way for domestic violence. Pakistan needs to revamp and reform this sector structurally and uproot all the structural and deep-seated causes of the perpetual domestic violence. Only then, Pakistan will properly benefit from half of the country’s population.