Pakistan is No Country for Women

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Pakistan is no country for women, we prove that time again on a daily basis. Just this week in Kohistan, another jirga-mandated murder of a girl took place. Her ‘crime’: dancing with boys in a video that went viral on social media.

This incident bears resemblance to the 2011 Kohistan case where five women were filmed clapping as a man danced. They were all murdered with a jirga’s approval. That such grisly crimes continue raises alarming questions about parallel justice systems and the precarious state of women’s rights in Pakistan.

While an FIR has filed, the culprits of the 2011 crimes remain unpunished, while the man who brought the matter to light was gunned down.

As an editorial in Dawn noted, “The plight of women in such scenarios is particularly distressing. Dubbed as ‘honour’ killings, these acts are, in fact, barbaric crimes that rob women of their dignity, agency, and ultimately, their lives. Women — in general, but particularly in these instances — are not seen as individuals with rights and freedoms but as mere bearers of communal honour, vulnerable to the most extreme forms of punishment for perceived transgressions.”

The solution, Dawn noted, “does not lie in restricting digital freedoms but in educating and empowering communities to use these tools responsibly. Most importantly, there is a need for comprehensive reforms to ensure that jirgas, which have been upheld as illegal by the apex court, are replaced by state-sanctioned legal fora that uphold the principles of justice, human rights, and gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution. The state must assert its role in protecting its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, from parallel systems that perpetrate injustice and inequality. Our resolve must be to fight for a society where no individual lives in the shadow of an unjust verdict, and where the dignity and rights of every woman are upheld.”

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Author: Ali Chughtai