The alleged gang rape of five minor girls in Sheikhupura by some landlords comes as a stark reminder of the precarious condition of women’s rights in Pakistan. This news came at a day when the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was being observed around the world. Women in Pakistan have been the target of domestic violence, sexual harassment, karo-kari, wani, child marriages, gang rapes, honour killings, forced marriages, acid attacks, marriages to the Quran, trafficking, and have frequently been subjected to inhuman punishments handed down by self-styled dispute-settling jirgas. This situation has not seen any amelioration so far.
As reported by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a woman is raped every two hours, a gang rape is committed every eight hours, and almost 1000 women fall victim to honour killings annually. Despite the passage of the Women Protection Bill 2011 approximately a year ago, the government has failed to evolve an effective mechanism to implement it. I am afraid the five teenager victims of this horrendous crime are now included among those thousands who are struggling to seek justice from the state and society alike. This is how we marked another International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Pakistan.
Malik Mudassar Arif