Too long have women been at the receiving end of violence while the perpetuators have gotten away without any accountability. For decades, domestic violence was not considered a crime in the eyes of the law, with battered and abused women having nowhere to go to register the grievances that they had suffered. Even now, the witness of a woman in a Hadood case is not given considerable weight. All these legal factors have contributed to the patriarchal norms of our society which encourage women to be silent and endure the violence they suffer; the societal norms which punishes, through character assassination, women who do speak out.

Through the work of incredible women brave enough to take a stand, these barriers towards justice are slowly being erased. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on the Khadija Siddiqui case was a victory for women’s rights across the country, particularly since Siddiqui had been fighting for accountability against her attacker for almost three years now. The case has received much national attention that everybody must be familiar with it now- on a May afternoon of 2016, Siddiqui was picking her sister up from her colonial-era established Convent school near Shimla Pahari, when she was stabbed numerous times by a man wearing a helmet, and left to die. Since then, Siddiqui has been in and out of the courts, demanding justice against her attacker, the accused Shah Hussain, and yesterday she got it.

The case is significant due to its uniqueness and the bravery of the victim. Siddiqui was, as the female victim always is in cases like these, subjected to character assassination, with insulting gendered allegations and personal pictures used by the Defence counsel against her in the Courts. Due to the vicious attacks on character and victim blaming that always follows domestic violence and abuse cases, most women do not appeal to the Court and give in to intimidation. Siddiqui persisted- after three years of persistence and intimidation tactics by the Defence, won her case in the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the Trial Court’s sentence of convicting Shah Hussain to seven year imprisonment for attempted murder.

It is hoped that Siddiqui’s example will inspire other victims to trust in the legal institution and report their instances of domestic violence and abuse. The Supreme Court must also be commended in this case due to this progressive decision and its speedy disposal of justice.