Women have been the victim of violence in one way or the other all through the ages, in all societies and all communities in the world. They are discriminated, subjugated and dejected and they have to bear the brunt of violence at domestic as well as public level.

The dominant male has tried his level best to make them meek and docile. The two unfortunate incidents in Lahore in which an orphan minor maid was tortured to death and another 16-year-old maid was allegedly strangled to death, are strongly condemned but sheds light on the miserable condition of women in our society. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence against women is such a deep part of our cultures and our lives. We find women raped, tortured and strangled every now and then. The conservative patriarchal mindsets have complete disregard for women. They are generally not even considered as humans.

The violence continues unabated because no social action has been seen forthcoming. Legislation exists, but is seldom implemented especially where the victim is from a poor family. Indeed, those very persons in charge of protecting a woman assault her and humiliate her. Overcoming these challenges requires a major shift in public attitude away from individual blame towards community accountability for gender-based violence.

Similarly, public responsibility means examining ways that institutions condone the violence either actively or passively. Laws and policies too must discourage violence and uphold basic human rights.

For that purpose media and education are the most powerful weapons to challenge such societal norms that impede women’s development. It should be kept in mind that women along with men are equal contributors to the progress and development of every nation. Therefore, they should also be treated as equal citizens and be given their due rights with equal opportunities.

SYED ALI QASIM,

Lahore, January 15.