Pakistan: Violence against Women and ICT

Abstract for Malaysia


Violence
against women is rife in Pakistan, in rural and urban settings within
all classes, castes and religious groups. However governmental
stakeholders and the women’s movement have both tended to focus
more on violence justified by Islam and customary practices, ignoring
more common systems of violence.
When a
violent incident occurs, women have very few places they can seek
out help. Oftentimes, women look to the members of their
family, but when the violence originates from the family, there is no
real help available. The only option is to leave the family and
social structure entirely which, in a society where the family reigns
supreme and kinship networks mean basic survival, is not a viable
option. Government and private shelters are available for crisis
intervention, but they assume that in a situation of violence, a
woman will want to run away from her family. Furthermore,
government-created emergency services only function in the cities and
even these are not trained in gender sensitivity. In fact, law
enforcement officers are notoriously insensitive and are often
perpetrators of violence themselves.
Many types
of violence are invisibilised by the
various discourses vying for attention in Pakistan. The kind of
violence that gets media, NGO, government and international
organisations’ consideration
are those that are associated with religion, custom, tribal societies
or a combination of all these. Domestic violence recieves
very little notice and is assumed even by
women as a normal part of married life. Sexual harassment in the
workplace or in public places is invisibilised
as well. Even honour killing and jirga1-enacted
rape, violence that is already visible,
gain the spotlight only on the basis of
their religious or customary aspects, rather than analysing
them for this larger truth: in all sectors of Pakistan, men and women
feel that men have the ability and the right to carry
out almost any kind of violence upon women, and that women
must and do accept it as the natural order of things. It is the same
principle that is at play during jirga-enacted
rape in a village or date rape in a city.
Finally,
there is no national awareness campaign, whether publicly or
privately funded, to spread knowledge and
advocate against violence against women. Women do not know their
rights and are not educated to believe that they do not deserve the
violence that they experience, or that they have an option to resist
it.
Access to
mobile technology is increasing rapidly in Pakistan, and women are
also gaining access, albeit at a slower rate than men. Mobile
technology is the most ripe for use in strategies of empowerment, as
long as access to technology is accompanied by training and
orientation to the device, and enticement to its many possibilities.
This, in concert with online campaigns to raise awareness and agitate
for greater state action will help reduce the cases of violence
against women in Pakistan.
Footnotes
1Tribal
assembly of elders
Year of publication: 
2009

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