Human Rights/Free Speech/Media
Violence against women and children rising in Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 20 Mar 2023, 12:37 pm Print

Violence against women and children rising in Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan

Representational image by Kharmacher via Wikimedia Commons

Islamabad: Pakistan-controlled Gilgit Baltistan boasts of a high literacy rate among its people, but school and college-going girls are not safe.

High literacy does not protect its women and children from being subjected to domestic violence.

A UNICEF-organised seminar this week took note of rising gender-based violence, especially, child abuse. There has been an alarming increase in child abuse and torture in Pakistan as a whole and despite stringent laws, the situation is very disappointing as most of the time there is no action and implementation of law in such cases, Daily K2 reported.

The violence extends to both women and children, and of them, women are worse off.

As per a survey, married women in GB reported higher levels of domestic violence that, when studied closer, account for 88.8%; psychological (69.4%), physical (37.5%) & sexual (21.2%).

This is a recurring story in Gilgit Baltistan, renowned for its natural beauty and sold to the world as a tourist destination.

The survey was analysed further by Pamir Times, a news portal two years ago by Mesum Qasmi.

According to the survey, a staggering 78% of women in Gilgit-Baltistan ‘accept' wife-beating. Respondents were further asked to explain the reason that could justify wife-beating.

Some of the reasons identified by the women were, “if the woman goes out without telling the husband, neglects the children, argues with her husband, refuses copulation or burns the food.”

Qasmi said the study is an eye-opener for everyone because it demonstrates that women themselves are proponents of battering.

The women are either oblivious to their rights or they have become immune due to entrenched and normalized direct, financial, cultural and structural violence.

The so-called proponents are unaware that the batterers want to exert control and influence through coercion, threats, male privilege, emotional abuse and blackmailing.

A few men in Gilgit-Baltistan think of females as commodities to satiate their physical desires.

The very class idealizes the contemporary socio-biological theory of gender-based violence which dominates men over women due to physical strength and the evolution of man’s aggression since the primitive era of hunting.

Sadly, cases of women harassment in Karakoram International University, Gilgit, are yet another example of gender-based violence. Female students in educational institutions, including KIU, are not safe.

Child abuse and rape are common these days.

The misery is that they are not even discussed, considering them taboo, hidden behind the veil of tribal or communal honour.

Qasmi cited examples: “Let me remind you about the incident of a juvenile, Zainab’s, rape some years back when her rape had been declared a 'clerical mistake' despite of thorough verification via medical report and agile investigation of Gilgit-Baltistan Police. Najeeb, father of the victim committed suicide when he was given deaf ears by echelons.”

The tale of violence doesn’t stop here. A bride, Adiba, was recently strangled to death by in-laws in Shimshal (Hunza), Gilgit-Baltistan. The body was left on the riverbank.

Though an FIR was registered and the alleged murderers were apprehended they were released on bail. Protests were staged across Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as in Islamabad and Karachi.

The threat posed to the lives of women by domestic violence in Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be underplayed. How could the in-laws kill the newlywed bride, take her body to a riverbed, leave it in open and call it a suicide! It is heartless and cruel, to see the least!

Qasmi points to other social ills.

“There have been agitations against the right to vote, and the wage gap patriarchy of society but “Marital-Rape” at home is not even discussed.

Marital rape is the domestic violence of structural form our women are totally unaware of. It is also considered a sensitive issue and hidden behind the façade of “Nikah” the legal contract between two parties i.e., husband and wife to get into marriage as if it is a license of coercion and rape.

Unfortunately, Nikah doesn’t qualify a woman to be submissive round the clock besides mood swings due to dysmenorrhea, sickness or tiresomeness.

Husbands need to understand the weaknesses and sufferings their body is prone to.

The woman is no more a tool and commodity to pacify and satiate physical desires but rather an institution for upcoming generations.

Gender-based violence must be challenged and stopped in order to lead a progressive society. We all need to raise our voices against harassment and violence to empower women, considering them equal human beings, not commodities.