Domestic violence in Pakistan continues to be rampant yet instances are often shrugged off by society as anomalies. Recently, in-laws of a newly-wed woman allegedly shaved her head for not bringing the dowry according to their expectations. With such frightening stories still an immense chunk of the news, it is still a wonder if any new legislation or amendments to protect women will make much difference.

In another horrid case a three-and-half-year-old baby was burnt alive when a man set on fire his wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her three kids after sprinkling petrol on them at Kohali village over a domestic dispute. A doctor has claimed that a minor Ahsan succumbed to his wounds at the hospital while the other five patients also received up to 80 per cent burn injuries. Such events make it clear that that we still have are a long way from celebrating any success regarding fighting domestic violence.

Perhaps, those who draft the laws do not know the ground realities and those who oppose them are unwilling to tackle social and moral problems, except through religious orthodoxy. Chairman of Pakistan Ullema Council Maulana Tahir Ashrafi said that some elements are propagating against the women protection bill for political purposes and that the laws were in line with Islam. Those promoting gender equality have had to walk over eggshells, so that the religious right is not hurt, when there is not reason to be. Giving an oppressed person a right does not take right away from the non-oppressed. Its like to we have had to congratulate religious parties for accepting the bill, as if they are doing women a favour. It is strange that the approval of all these male led committees is required for a bill that is about women. A woman’s approval is the only opinion that should matter, seeing as she is the subject of the law.

There are many questions still left unanswered. Do we have a law against dowry? Do we even know that it exists? Promulgating laws for regulating the collective life of a community is the primary responsibility – as well as the essential mandate – of a state. But then the state should have the will and the capacity to implement these laws, making sure they cover all aspects- ones that we want to pretend don’t happen.

These hate crimes against women need to be addressed with the dire need to understand the specific patriarchal and dominant mindset that such violent behaviour against women. Only then can any law and policy be effective enough to bring about a change.