The video clip of a son beating his mother that went viral on social media sites is just an ugly reality of our society that we often try to brush under the carpet. While the police have already registered a first information report (FIR) against the man and his wife, the menace of domestic abuse is not going away with one police report. The video shows us how deep the issue of domestic abuse and violence is. According to the 2019 Women, Peace and Security Index, Pakistan ranks 164th out of 166 when it comes to women’s safety and protection.

Despite the introduction of new laws to protect the women from abuse, especially domestic violence, the situation is not improving. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation, and establishing helplines do not mean that the state has fulfilled its responsibilities regarding women protection. Despite the introduction of pro-women laws that criminalise domestic abuse, the barriers in ensuring justice to the victims are too many. The state needs to remove all these obstacles so that the victims of domestic violence can seek a swift remedy. The laws also need further improvements and clarity in their language.

Pakistan seems to have done little to change attitudes and practices. Notably, the most important ones who need a change in their views on the menace of domestic violence are police and courts. They must not see the cases of domestic violence as private family matters; what was basically standard procedure up until very recently. All institutions, especially the police and the legal fraternity, need to receive gender sensitivity training. Essential to our understanding is that domestic abuse is not just about a husband abusing his wife. All women in our families are at threat as long as we do not tackle the problem head-on. Combating violence against women needs to be observed from all angles if the aim is creating gender equality.