Asma Aziz, the Lahori woman whose husband and his friends took the liberty of mistreating, is now safe in the hands of the law. Her husband, along with his friends, has been handed over to the police for four days physical remand after the Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari took notice of the incident.

The emergence of this news story highlights exactly how unsafe the environment is for women in Pakistan. A country being listed as the 6th most unsafe country in the world for women needs to mobilise its lawmakers to identify these problems and create a safety net for the gender which makes up half of its population.

No mainstream parties are identifying these issues and working on them rigorously. The female politicians and their narratives are outnumbered by their male counterparts, most of whom oppose women-centric legislation from passing in the assembly. This is exactly why social movements like the Aurat March are emerging because the mainstream interest aggregators have failed to do their job. Had it not been for social media upheaval, there was a fair chance that the woman would have continued to face such mistreatment and because police gender sensitisation programmes are largely absent, dismissal of her report was highly likely. The same problem plagues traditional and mainstream media as well, most of which have indulged in victim-blaming by highlighting that the marriage had been of the victim’s own accord.

From media to government, this incident reflects a lack of understanding of women issues in all spheres, and reveals the urgent need for progress. The safety nets which were worked upon by the PML-N government, Women against Violence Centre (WAVC), have not been paid in the last nine months. This shows that while the new government identifies the need to work on human development, what is missing from their vision is the understanding of the adverse environment that women have to survive in. Amnesty International has called for a systemic change to protect women in Pakistan and the government needs to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to make that possible.