The World Economic Forum recently released the Global Gender Gap Report, 2022. Out of the 146 countries ranked on the index, Pakistan is at 145, doing slightly better than Afghanistan. The report gauges how immense the gender gap is in areas including education, economic participation, health, and political empowerment. Pakistan’s second-last position comes as no surprise, at least not for the women in the country.
Earlier this week, a 21-year-old American woman, who is also a vlogger, was allegedly raped by her tour guide and his two accomplices in Dera Ghazi Khan. The woman revealed she knew the man [one of the culprits] for a long time and is hurt by the fact that he could do something like this. “I am deeply hurt by the fact that a friend I have known for such a long time was trying to portray a positive image of this beautiful country to foreign travellers, who seemed so trustworthy, could commit such a vile and horrific act,” she said. Then there was news of a van driver in Dera Ghazi Khan who raped a woman at Rajanpur wagon. Every day, someone somewhere in Pakistan gets raped, either by someone they know or a complete stranger. The women in Pakistan have said it over and over again about how unsafe they feel in this country, including in their homes, offices, and streets. You name it and you will come to know about a story of a woman being raped or sexually harassed. With all that is going on, when will this stop for the women living in the country? Will sanity ever prevail? Will they ever be safe? Will they ever get equality? Will justice and the right care be provided to them? What are our policymakers doing to make the lives of women in Pakistan better?
A new committee against rape has been announced by the Law Ministry in an effort to combat the worrying increase in sexual violence cases across the nation. The special committee’s primary responsibility will be to aid sexual assault victims in getting legal representation, in addition to attempting to stop cases of rape against children. But the question remains: will this be enough? Women in Pakistan are yearning for the day when our society will learn to provide the strength where it is required and stand with the survivors of sexual assaults when no one will be frightened to talk about their horrific experiences and when no woman will be blamed for being a victim and survivor. But until that day arrives, we can all try to bridge the gap and make it better for the women in our country. The leaders and decision-makers can really try and make an effort to make Pakistan safe for women. It is time to stand up for the ones suffering. Home needs to be a safe place, workplaces need to be safe, our streets need to be safe, and our trains and other transportation means need to be safe for women.
It has been a year since Noor Mukadam was brutally murdered by Zahir Jaffer in Islamabad. We hope that Noor finds justice. We hope that women who are killed in the name of so-called ‘honour’ find justice. We hope that men who commit crimes against women are caught and punished. We hope that our justice system does not betray are women constantly. We hope that women are allowed to study, work, marry of their own choice, stay unmarried if they wish to, and are able to live in a society that does not treat them like second-class citizens. Because enough is enough!