Violence against Women in Pakistan: Targeting the Roots of this Plight
Violence against women is defined as “any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or private life” (WHO, 2014). And according to the article (violence against women in Pakistan) violence against women can also be define as to violate women’s sexual, physical, psychological and social rights against her will (Ali, P.A& Gavino, 2008).
In socio-cultural context it is a very significant problem. It’s one of a major social issue that requires considerable attention. According to WHO it’s a major publicly spread health problem and it violates basic rights of women. It is cause of major physical injury and is one of the main causes of physical, psychological, social and emotional problems (WHO, 2014).
35% of women worldwide experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime (WHO, 2014). According to 2012 statistics, in Pakistan 7516 cases of violence against women were reported. Among these 28% Women were married, 21% unmarried, 5% widows, 5% divorced and 41% cases were with no Information (Aurat foundation, 2012).
There are many root causes and risk factors that contribute to cause violence against women. Firstly, I think poverty is the leading cause of the violence against women. According to literature poverty results in stressful conditions (jewkes, 2002). When men become unable to fulfill basic needs, to cope up with the stress he use tool of violence against women.
Secondly, lack of good communication between couples and verbal disagreements result in violence. Dowry disputes, infertility of women and no male child birth are major relationship conflicts in eastern countries while having extra marital affairs and use of alcohol in harmful way are found in western countries (jewkes, 2002). Thirdly, harmful consumption of alcohol is another risk factor for causing violence. Lastly living in male dominant society, it has become a social norm for men to abuse women physically, psychologically, and verbally and likewise its norm for women to bear the harsh behavior of men. And according to social learning theory (Bandura, 1986) violence against women is a learned social behavior, if father’s behavior is violent towards mother, then there are more chances, son will be violent against his partner.
So women who face violence at any time in their life, their physical and mental health become compromised. The victims of violence have long lasting negative health effects, with poor health status and worse quality of life. 70% women have reported emotional distress globally (Campbell, 2002) and women in Pakistan have reported depression and anxiety. It can lead to post traumatic stress disorder and have difficulties related to sleep and eating disorders (WHO, 2014). Many Women attempt suicide to get rid of the negative consequences.
So to lessen the sufferings of the victims we can play our role. If we cannot abolish the issue totally at least we can lessen the negative out comes. We can help women to find emotional, physical, economic, legal and social support to overcome the stressful situation. Following are the guidelines proposed by WHO in 2014 as first line of support for a woman who undergo violence to lessen the sufferings and consequences of Violence.
1) Listen: listening is the basis of first line support and is very helpful for the emotional
recovery of the victim. By listening carefully we respect feelings and concerns of the women.
2) Inquire: about needs and concerns: we ask open ended questions in order to identify the
Physical needs, social support needs, emotional needs, economic and safety needs of the
3) Validate: at this step we ensure women that she has right to live without fears and
violence and help her to cope with the negative feelings like hopelessness, depression,
guilt, mood swings and anxiety. And we ensure her our availability for her help.
4) Enhance safety: women who are victims of violence always have fears about safety, so
we assess the situation carefully and make plans for her safety, we can refer her to a shelter homes.
5) Support: at this stage we find out what supportive resources are available for the women in the community, like support groups, mental health counselor, financial aid. Primary care homes, Social workers and legal support. And we teach her how to avail the services.
Moreover, in our country Pakistan, effective interventions are needed to overcome the issue. On primary prevention level, effective awareness sessions should be conducted in schools and colleges and at community level addressing effective communication skills among couples and among people of community. And provide awareness about women rights and gender equality. Teaching should be given on harmful consumption of alcohol and its negative consequences.
Shelter homes should be built for the victims of the violence. Police system should be effective so that women can report any kind of violence against them. There should be organizations to help women to treat depression; which is very common in victims of Pakistan. Legislation system should make effective laws and policies that will protect women against violence.
In conclusion I would say that violence against women is major issue of world and its prevalence in Pakistan is very high. And its consequences are very drastic so effective strategies should be taken to eradicate the issue from Pakistan and globally as well, because spending violence free life is right of every woman and we cannot violate anyone’s right.
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About the Author: Fazila Bibi is a final year student of Bachelors in Science and Nursing at Aga Khan University Karachi, Pakistan. Critical care and public health are her areas of interest. Fazila can be reached at [email protected]
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