It would be difficult to create a more oppressive culture for women than that of the Punjab, in which at least 17 women daily are victims of "gender related" violence (I still take issue with how "gender is used in our vocabulary).
According to the report, there were 1,650 cases of gender based violence in July and September. They included 477 cases of abduction, 347 murder cases (including 85 killed for ‘honour’), 250 cases of rape, 165 suicides, 37 incidents of domestic violence, 10 cases of burning, eight acid attacks and two cases of sexual assault.
While educational opportunities are minimal for girls (and certainly, not all boys have access to school either), that status only changes the nature of the abuse:
The report suggests that the type of violence the women were subjected to varied across socioeconomic class and age brackets. The more educated women were subject to more emotional and psychological abuse than women from rural, feudal or tribal backgrounds. Women from the lower income bracket were subjected to more physical abuse.
According to the report, 56 per cent of the incidents were reported from rural Punjab, 38 per cent from urban centres and around six per cent from small towns. The report suggested that women from rural areas were more vulnerable than their counterparts in urban centres and towns.
The number of rape complaints in rural centres was double the figure for urban centres. Furthermore, 62 per cent of incidents of honour killing occurred in rural areas.
The authors said that most of the cases probably went unreported.
So the statistics are probably much higher in every case, since some villages accept the status quo as "normal" and police aren't often involved.
Skirkat Gah Advocacy and Communications Director Fauzia Viqar said domestic violence was an invisible crime in that it was rarely reported till it bordered on extreme. The notion of “sanctity of privacy” had stigmatised open discussions of domestic violence.
Viqar said the matter required a law that criminalised acts of domestic violence, otherwise considered quite normal in Pakistani society. She said redress for victims of domestic violence in civil courts and criminal courts were also limited.
Irfan Mufti, of the SAP-PK, said violence against women took place in their families, communities and the society. The latter two forms were kept in check to some extent but violence within households are rarely reported, he said.
He said there had been several reported cases in which the men of the family had subjected their women to violence and had their elders’ approval to do so.
Imagine the feeling of despair--which explains the high number of suicides. Extricating the religious roots is impossible at this point, although one would hope that Christianity would eventually make a difference. Prayers for these dear women.