One of the perks of living in 21st century is believing in virtual reality. One may easily think that gender discrimination is now merely a myth. The girl next door is doing a job, getting higher education, she even goes to market alone instead of being locked down within the four walls of the house. It’s impossible that someone is going to force her into something against her will. But the picture is far bleak. The same girl is soon forcefully married to keep the respect of family.

Obviously education has given her a voice and confidence but soon everyone reproaches education as the main culprit for the girl to express her opinion. In a battle between girl’s happiness and family’s respect, latter wins most of the time. The tactics for achieving this success differs in variant segments of our society from emotional trauma, physical violence to simply selling her off. This is just one form of domestic violence that 90 percent of women in Pakistan experience at the hands of families or husbands. Physical, psychological and sexual abuse from intimate partners are much common then it appears to be. The intensity of the situation can be well acquainted by a survey done by Thomson Reuters Foundation which ranked Pakistan as the third dangerous country for women next to Afghanistan and Congo.

 Sadly, most of the times domestic violence goes unnoticed. Statistics show that only 0.4 percent women take their cases to court. One of the major reasons is the societal brought up which inculcates that it’s okay to be abused by males of the family. The common norm that it the duty of a female to keep quiet in front of any kind of abuse by her family and especially her husband is a quotidian notion. A recent survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, shows that 65 percent Pakistanis believe domestic violence is a family’s personal problem; not to be interfered by social organisations and media. Other reasons for this patriarchal notion includes lack of awareness regarding basic human and legal rights, financial dependence on male members of the family, psychological pressure due to marriages within extended family and fear of societal reactions.

There are proper women shelters and government organisations for social welfare and women protection in all the provinces. In addition, there are a number of non-governmental bodies working for women against domestic violence . However, the number of people well informed about them is a drop in the bucket. The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWAVA) provided unprecedented protection to women against domestic violence . It encompasses domestic, psychological, emotional, economic as well as cyber abuse. The irony of our society is that most of the time women protection laws are highly criticised and made controversial by male segment of clerics and others as un-Islamic and so forth. This clarifies that the problem is very deep rooted. Furthermore, the lack of awareness about the protection laws particularly among females remains a major issue.

Merely setting up institutions and passing laws won’t help the situation unless the issue is taken seriously and efforts are made to dig out the root causes which exacerbate this evil. The first and the foremost step could be a nationwide awareness campaign discouraging domestic violence of all kinds. Of course, media can play a vital role in spreading the awareness about women protection and their legal rights to the most remote corners of the country. Proper enforcement of women protection laws will uplift the confidence among women. Moreover, empowering women in all the fields of life will further minimise the alarming statistics of domestic violence .

It’s easy said than done. Why women don’t get out of abusive marriages or speak up for their rights is a general question asked by many. The emotional and psychological trauma faced by women shatters their self confidence in most of the cases. They think of this abuse as their fate. The most feasible solution they could think of is to stay quiet usually for most of their lives. They secretly hope for things to get better or wait for a miracle to happen. But miracles seldom happen, making them immune to the domestic violence which they consider as part of their daily life. This is the silent evil flourishing in most of the households. It is the duty of all the individuals of our society to help those who are forcefully shunned of their basic human and legal rights. But charity begins at home. If only we realise that women are as human as males, they have basic human and legal rights and that they can also have freedom of expression which will certainly halt this evil forever. If the cost of maintaining family’s respect or saving marriage is destruction of a woman physically or psychologically then the cost is simply too high.