A young girl was subjected to torture in Faisalabad. A final-year student, the girl alleged that her friend’s father became interested in her and even wrote her a formal proposal, which she declined. After she rejected the proposal, the accused pressurised her to change her mind. She received death threats. The complainant was even threatened that she could be raped. In videos that have now gone viral, she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse. Her hair was cut off and she was asked to lick shoes in order to humiliate her. She went through this abuse and torture only because she refused to marry a man who was also her friend’s father. This horrific incident shows how fragile Pakistani male egos are because they will not let a woman exercise her free will and choose to say no.

This isn’t the first incident of its kind. Back in 2018, a bus hostess was murdered in Faisalabad for rejecting a marriage proposal. We witnessed the same shock and horror that we are seeing today but did it change anything? No. Are women allowed to exercise their free will and choose the men of their choice? No.

In Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, a total of 77 cases of physical assault were recorded in the month of July alone — 93 women in Punjab were abducted, and 47 cases of sexual assault cases were recorded. As far as domestic violence cases are concerned, Punjab reported 58 cases.

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Women face the same problems across South Asia. In India, Bilkis Bano — an Indian Muslim woman who was gang-raped in the 2002 Gujarat riots — said that her peace has been taken away after the Gujarat government released her 11 rapists. Her rapists were released on August 15, i.e. Independence Day of India. They were convicted in 2008.“How can justice for any woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land. I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice,” said Bilkis in her statement.

With all the abuse, harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, and rapes being reported not just in our country, but around the region, where are we headed as a society? Where do we go from here? Where do we stand? Has humanity died? What about morality and protection in the name of rule and law? Will women ever be safe, anywhere? Women of Pakistan and across the world deserve better.