Despite the many advancements and developments in media and information technology, the Pakistani society is still bound by many chains which hinder its progression. One of these chains is the violence committed against women.
It is an acknowledged fact that many women in Pakistan are subjected to domestic violence. In our patriarchal society, men are  encouraged to show their dominance over women and are expected not to tolerate any kind of misbehavior from  women. It is also the case that many men need to exert such authority and control over their wives in order to prove that they are ‘man enough’.
Domestic violence is not only physical, but verbal and psychological too. Many a times women are  taunted and insulted by their husbands who abuse them on various occasions.  Such conditions have aggravated since the early 2000's, as women have started to work outside of their homes. 
However, in recent years, the government has substantial taken steps to eradicate  domestic violence. A helpline number was introduced some time back by the government using which women subjected to domestic violence could contact government officials and seek help and protection against their oppressors. As women started to receive education, they became more aware of their rights ultimately standing up against violence and oppression. If we go by this term, domestic violence has decreased in the recent past. 
Honour killings, another brutal form of domestic violence, are done in the name of honour as the name suggests. These are generally practiced in rural areas where if a girl  is found to have any sort of relation with a man who is not her husband, is raped or killed in order to protect the honour and dignity of the family, without any authentic evidence at times. Such girls are considered as a blot on the family name for being involved in men. 
This practice is considered as a part of many sub-cultures where people do not even realise that honour killing falls under the parameters of 'attempted murder'. 
In Pakistan, honour killing cases were not reported at all. However, as awareness grew, people came to consider it as a heinous crime and in 2009 only, 472 cases were reported. 
It is nonetheless important to create awareness about this issue, which Pakistan has taken action against. Ace filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy even produced an Oscar winning-documentary named 'A Girl in the River' which revolved around a girl who escaped getting killed in the name of honour. Such movies and documentaries receive widespread public, as well as, international support and play a major role in educating people. In February 2016, at the Prime Minister House, at the event of the screening of this film, PM Nawaz Sharif promised to eradicate all such evil practices and ensured full support and cooperation from his government.
We have succeeded in our efforts today; there is no honour in honour killing, he said. 
Government support and public awareness have brought about a decrease in the number of honour killings and in areas such as Lower Sindh and Baluchistan, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases as more people consider it a crime now as compared to in the past. The government has introduced laws against honour killings, as of 7 October 2016.
The legislation on honour killings has introduced strict punishment for the convicts making it tougher than ordinary murder cases. Under the new law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.
Pakistan is alleged to have a lot of rape cases each year. We agree that there have been many cases of sexual harassment and rape that have surfaced in the past few years. Women are constantly being subjected to violence and this is an act that we strongly condemn. To this end, the government of Pakistan has taken a number of steps to bring down the number of rape cases and to punish the rapists strictly in accordance with the law.
As of 7 October 2016, anti-rape bills have been passed by a joint session of the Parliament. 
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, speaking on this regard,  said, "The bill will prove to be effective in curbing rape cases across the country."
According to this bill, DNA samples will be collected and examined as soon as possible. 
Law minister Zaid Hamid stated, "The verdicts in the rape cases will have to be given within three months, with the right to appeal in six months.The police station will be obliged to inform the victims of their legal rights. We have made it mandatory that the culprit must be imprisoned for 25 years"
With the passing of this law, rape cases are expected to decrease in number as strict punishments and actions will be taken against the rapist.

Courtesy | Neha Wasim (The News International)


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