Keeping in line with the oppressive patriarchal norms that dominate most households in Pakistan, a successful Balochi journalist and women’s right activist, Shaheena Shaheen Baloch, was reportedly shot dead by her husband in a family member’s house. Year after year, so many incidents of domestic violence have been swept under the rug as apathetic authorities continue with their strategy of inaction. We have gone much too long without setting a precedent against such outrageous aggression.

Shaheena Shaheen was a respected journalist from Balochistan who had a vibrant career, and aimed to empower women to escape the bounds imposed by society. Such an incident is not out of the ordinary for Pakistan; several women, both successful and otherwise, from all kinds of professions, have faced persecution and violence purely because they rose above and refused to adhere to myopic patriarchal restrictions. Given the regularity with which such crimes are committed, one can only conclude that there is an absence of the fear of accountability for perpetrators. This needs to be rectified.

The reality of Pakistan is that there is little government legislation that aims to protect women, prevent the occurrence of unjustified killings and help incriminate offenders. And in cases where legislation exists, lack of implementation leaves victims without justice. Far too many women have died in vain because authorities have been unable to successfully bring about reforms. A high-profile case like Shaheena’s should be used as greater impetus to charge against accepted norms of male dominance that prevail in our country. This will set the precedent of punishing uncalled for and atrocious crimes but it would also enable the country to pay homage to all those who have been subjugated throughout the course of decades.

Shaheena Shaheen was an asset for the country, and for Balochistan specifically. By letting such a mentality foster, we only threaten the prosperity of our future as potential is either forcefully eliminated or remains untapped because women are confined to a small, insignificant and vulnerable platform.