November 6 2012
When laws protecting the rights of women go unenforced, women suffer the consequences of injustice.
Yesterday, the BBC broadcast the interview of a Pakistani couple arrested and charged with killing their 15-year-old daughter, because she looked at a boy who passed their home. The parents say the family had already lost face regarding an older daughter, and that they had warned their younger daughter, Anusha, not to look at boys.
After Anusha glanced at the boy, her father physically beat her before her mother poured acid on Anusha, burning 60 percent of her body. Anusha’s mother reported her daughter cried that the glance was an accident as she poured the acid, but that it was too late. Her mother and her daughter had succumbed to her “destiny.” The family denied Anusha medical help until the following morning.
The couple is now in jail, but Anusha’s murder is not unique. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that 943 women were murdered in honor killings in 2011. That’s twice as many as was reported in 2010, and is unfortunately expected to be a conservative estimate, as many killings go unreported. Furthermore, only 20 of the murder victims received medical attention before they died.
In fact, according to the BBC, it was not until March that “the government of Pakistani-administered Kashmir made acid attacks a criminal offence punishable with life imprisonment.” When violence against women is supported by Pakistani culture, laws become difficult to enforce.
Women in Pakistan combat a real war on women that plays out in the culture and justice system. In order to ensure the safety and justice of women, cultural change must occur and laws must be enforced.