In a horrifying incident in Sargodha, a man was arrested for amputating his wife’s legs, by striking them with an axe. When screams were heard from his house and neighbours intervened, he said his suspicions over his wife’s character drove him to beat her with a baton, and subsequently amputate her legs. The fact that this motivation will be accommodated by many as reasonable, is what needs to change. It just isn’t reasonable. And it doesn’t matter what religion, culture or societal traditions may say. There’s no excuse for it.

Suspicion of a woman’s ‘morals’ receives no challenge as a reason to subject women to the most merciless torture. Throwing acid, cutting off noses, mutilating body parts, all using the excuse of a flawed character, is terrifying to see and apparently impossible to prevent. A woman’s character is her own. Men have no ownership of it, nor does it concern them to police it. But someone tell them that. In a culture like Pakistan’s, the habit of seeing a wife or mother or daughter’s honour as one’s property, while at the same time refusing to accept them in a public space, makes for a particularly frustrating and stifling environment — not to mention, a horrifyingly insecure one.

It’s not just the men, of course. Even women from educated backgrounds, and with family support, continue to preach and practice a form of male patriarchy. Where men are cruel enough judges of women, perhaps there is none harsher towards a woman, than another woman. Those who can stand up for themselves and survive are a combination of brave and lucky. Those who can’t, end up at the mercy of their torturers. With all the money and glossy brochures being waved around by dozens of NGOs proclaiming to improve the condition of women’s rights, it looks like it hasn’t made an inch of a difference. Today it’s this story, tomorrow it will be another; of that, one can be certain. After all, if we have one talent, it is that we believe in reinventing and reliving our greatest tragedies.