In a time when sexual abuse and rape are an endemic in the country and laws are needed more than ever to protect the victims, the majority of the right wing religious political parties sitting in the Parliament are allowed to block and stall these bills. The sitting government takes two steps backwards with every step forward as far as women’s rights are concerned. Every day that these religious MNAs are given the freedom to block women protection bills, at least 60 women are subjected to violence every day in Punjab alone.

The way lawmakers of JUI-F and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) are given a free hand to disrespect women parliamentarians in the assembly is more reason to not to let them dictate the fate of millions of women across Pakistan who are denied justice in the name of honour. Every day in Punjab, at least six women are murdered or face a murder attempt; at least eight women are raped, another 11 assaulted, and 32 abducted for various reasons, according to a report published by the Law and order wing of the Special Monitoring Unit (SMU).

These bills that were stalled in the assembly are no longer about domestic abuse and ‘ruining the family and societal balance’ in Pakistan.

These bills protect women against criminals and predators, from using rape as a means to settle scores and to protect women and children from sexual abuse that destroys their chances of a normal adulthood as in the case of the Kasur victims. What excuse do they have to stall this bill now? Does Shariah condone sexual violence against women and children? The government must use a firm hand when dealing with such elements that target progression of basic human rights of the country. It is the only way to begin to reverse decades of rape impunity that has become part of the discourse in Pakistan.