The tragic death of a 19-year-old girl in Lahore at the hands of her father, a 52-year-old government servant who later on killed himself as well, may not be shocking news in Pakistan but it certainly brings our attention back to the bitter reality that daughters are often seen as a financial burden in society. According to media reports, Hafiz Rashid gunned down his own daughter, Sabeen, on Tuesday. Initially, the gruesome incident was perceived as an honour killing – a crime that is sadly rampant throughout the country. However, later on it was revealed by the family members that the young woman suffered a mental disorder. Given the meager amount Rashid earned as a simple government servant, the family could not afford to meet her medical needs. In order to rid himself of the responsibility of taking care of a special offspring, Rashid not only took his daughter’s life but also his own.

It was a brutal act of cowardice by Rashid but the story is not as simple as it seems. In our country, poverty and patriarchy operate in cahoots with each other to crush the lives of many young, aspiring and strong women. Activists have brought this issue of precarity faced by the lower and lower-middle class in Pakistan but their chants and demands for justice fall deaf on the ears of our so-called guardians.

The responsibility of our government is to tend to the needs of the under-privileged, who toil day in and out to make ends meet for their families. In addition to addressing those social problems, our government is obligated to educate society against inflicting physical, emotional and sexual violence on women. A gap between the leaders and the people such as this only one leaves abundant space for more death and despair.