As long as society does not realize the need to end patriarchal and feudal tyranny, it will be impossible to end violence against women.
Violence and abuse affect women from all kinds of backgrounds every day. Sometimes, women are attacked by strangers, but most often they are hurt by people who are close to them. Violence and abuse can cause terrible physical and emotional pain.
Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Similar to a hate crime, violence against women can fit into several broad categories. These include violence carried out by “individuals” as well as “states.”
Some forms of violence perpetrated by individuals include rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, coercive use of contraceptives, female infanticide, obstetric violence and mob violence. Other forms include harmful customary or traditional practices such as honor killings, dowry violence, female genital mutilation, marriage by abduction and forced marriage.
In some instances, violence against women is perpetrated or condoned by the state such as war rape, sexual violence and sexual slavery, forced sterilization, forced abortion, violence by the police and authoritative personnel, stoning and flogging.
Organized criminal networks have been known to inflict violence against women in the form of trafficking and forced prostitution.
The history of violence against women remains vague in scientific literature
This is in part due to the fact that many kinds of violence against women (specifically rape, sexual assault and domestic violence) often go unreported because of societal norms, taboos, stigma, and the sensitive nature of the subject.
Therefore, a historical picture of violence against women becomes even more difficult to capture. Although the history of violence against women is difficult to track, some claim that violence against women has been accepted. The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women states that
“violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”
It is recognized that violence against women exists everywhere, and that “there is no region of the world, no country and no culture in which women’s freedom from violence has been secured.”
Stop violence against women
Every day, millions of women and girls across the world are beaten and abused. Many are harmed in their homes by members of their family or community. Others are raped or harassed by the very security forces that are meant to protect them. Some victims of gender-based violence are employed outside their homes, some are not.
Some are rich, some are poor. Some are literate, some are not. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. They have only one thing in common: they are female, and they are abused. Stop Violence Against Women was started on March 5, 2004, in preparation for International Women’s Day.
We live in the 21st century, see and tolerate violence and yet the so-called educated and literate people bear violence and pay a price of their life. It is time we engage in this cause to stop violence against women by spreading the message asking girls’ parents not to engage in giving dowry for their daughters’ marriages; stop forcing a woman to stay in an abusive relationship; accept a rape survivor as part of our society and encourage her to share her story so it lessens her burden; and stop the preference given to boys over girls as part of our day-to-day living.
It is widely known that violence against women and obstacles to their empowerment are both rooted in the feudal culture and patriarchal society.
So long as state and society do not realize the need for a social revolution, including demolition of patriarchal and feudal tyranny, it will be possible neither to end violence against women, nor to empower them, nor even to break the vicious cycle of poverty and exploitation, as a result of which women suffer more than men, and non-Muslim women more than Muslim.
Saira Ronaq is a writer and graduate student in gender studies at the University of Karachi. Read other articles by Saira.