Domestic Violence: A Social Concern
In the domestic setting, individuals seek comfort and power, as this social interaction fosters core values of affection, respect and solidarity, which in turn shape our broader social dynamics. But clashing perspectives often lead to domestic conflict, manifested by issues of violence that exacerbate the challenges faced by women in patriarchal societies. Domestic violence against women comes in various forms, such as psychological and emotional pressure, physical torment and abuse, excessive restrictions and coercion. While such domestic violence is frequently associated with savagery against spouse by husband or in-laws, it is critical to recognize that it is not only against wives but women from different walks endure such torment, often hidden from public scrutiny. Domestic violence in intimate relationships is a very private and sensitive issue, and few people are willing to intervene in the personal affairs of others, but it is essential to recognize that domestic violence is not merely a family matter but a social concern that needs collective action.
Although it has a rich cultural heritage and Islamic basis, Pakistan is dealing with the persistent issue of domestic violence against women. The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), together with UN Women, launched a ‘Policy Brief on Domestic Violence’ according to which, over 90 percent of women face domestic torment out of which 50 percent cases are not reported. While it is commonly believed that men are solely responsible for inflicting violence on women, it’s essential to recognize that there are cases where women may inadvertently contribute to emotional or other forms of mistreatment toward men, potentially triggering abusive reactions. However, due to their physical vulnerability, women often struggle hard to defend themselves effectively against such actions. This silent and widespread epidemic is influenced by various complex factors, including cultural, social, economic, psychological and legal aspects.
Domestic torture :a psychological disease prevailing due to patriarchal mindsets or deviation from Islamic teachings?
Gender inequality lies at the heart of this issue, with women often enduring oppressive cultural practices, such as dowry-related abuse, honor killings, and forced marriages, often in far-flung regions. While certain interpretations within Islam have granted men more control over their wives, it is crucial to dispel the misconception that beating one’s wife is an Islamic and legal right. This toxic mentality is not limited to rural areas but also prevalent among the educated and elite society as many issues emerged within the elite class during last year. With the inflation surge, economic pressures and societal expectations can contribute to the depression and social pressure faced by men, leading to the mistreatment of their partners. Additionally, the portrayal of women in the entertainment industry as submissive and timid further perpetuates patriarchal beliefs that she is the one who has to bear all the torture because she is in need to keep the relationship going. Society plays a significant role in worsening the issue by engaging in victim-blaming and subjecting women to humiliation by labeling them as divorced. The fear of these labels, combined with factors like financial instable background or being in a marriage that is against the family’s will, can hinder women from breaking the ice and taking a stand against domestic violence. While it is imperative to recognize that victims are never to blame, it is crucial to illuminate the inadvertent manners in which women unknowingly contribute to the perpetuation of domestic violence. These factors may stem from being a working woman, stable socio-economic background, class disparities, reluctant to live in joint family structures, extra marital affairs or imposition of unrealistic expectations on their partners, even a desire for complete independence.
In the past, the Pakistani government has implemented several important laws to fight domestic violence. However, with limited awareness and shortcomings in the justice system, implementation has been a challenge and culprits are still free at hand because less importance is given to enforcement of these laws. Efforts should be made to strengthen the response of the justice system to domestic violence. The establishment of specialized courts and the appointment of dedicated prosecutors aim to expedite cases and ensure justice for survivors.
Civil society companies, human rights NGOs, human rights advocates, social media influencers and the media have taken essential steps to empower victims and assist them smash their cycle of abuse via raising cognizance, counselling, safe spaces, legal assistance and rehabilitation programs. These practices pave the way for changing societal attitudes, advocating for policy change and promoting gender equality through education and advocacy.
The government must collaborate with agencies to increase public awareness and funding in order to create a society where domestic violence is not tolerated. It is crucial to engage religious leaders, community elders, and influential figures in promoting gender equality, challenging harmful cultural norms. Social media should be involved in supporting the casualties both financially and ethically and seizing the wandering dogs polluting the society and the case ought to be in the limelight on media platforms until justice is given to the casualties that following a few days the case is overlooked and casualty faces more hindrances than previously.
Numerous challenges like physical injuries, emotional traumas, societal pressure, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts or attempts and limited access to basic resources are often faced by survivals of domestic violence that can lead to lifetime sufferings. Ensuring complete security and access to medical treatment for domestic violence survivors is crucial in addressing their immediate health needs and supporting their long-term recovery.
Tackling domestic violence calls for a comprehensive approach consisting of criminal reforms, robust support offerings and a cultural shift in the direction of gender equality. It is critical that the Pakistani authorities, civil society and individuals work collectively to combat this abhorrent practice. Only through cooperation an egalitarian society can be built in which all individuals, regardless of which gender, can stay an existence free of violence and fear inside their homes.