Is abuse of women a cultural norm in Pakistan?

Amina Bibi, a teenager from Pakistan, has died after setting herself alight in protest following the police’s release of a key suspect in the her armed gang rape.

Amina Bibi, a teenager from Pakistan, has died after setting herself alight in protest following the police’s release of a key suspect in the her armed gang rape. The act of protest occurred 13th March, with Amina passing away a day later after succumbing to her injuries, despite a local hospital’s efforts.

Charges were dropped against the suspect due to lack of evidence connecting him to horrific crime, but after these recent events the case has been reopened, stating: “It seems the case had not been properly investigated.”

The Pakistani Supreme Court is also demanding an explanation.

Public acts of desperation, like the one performed by Amina Bibi, are rare in Pakistan, but abuse against women is a lot more common. The traumatic events inflicted upon Amina, who was only a young college student, are not particularly out of the ordinary in Southern Asia. Rape is rampant, domestic violence is an everyday occurrence and not a lot is done about it.

When will enough be enough?

While I realise that certain parts of the world are a few steps behind the western world we live in, how far behind can they really be? That’s if ‘behind’ is even the right word, I don’t believe such crimes happened on such a scale in the UK without anything being done about it!

I’m sure this isn’t the first case of South Asian gang rape that hasn’t seen justice you’ve heard about. After all, 2002’s gang-rape victim, Mukhtar Mai, suffered her ordeal in the same district (although thankfully it didn’t end so tragically and she’s still alive campaigning for women’s rights).

Pakistani law enforcement is known for being corrupt. Justice for crimes against women is served so rarely that hoping for it seems almost foolish. After all, Amina hoped for justice, but the release of her suspected attacker sunk that ship and, maybe feeling she had nothing left to lose, she gave her life in protest.

Even if the police do properly investigate and find evidence and convict the suspect now that the case is reopened, it’ll be too late for Amina.

An issue of context

It’s disappointing that, in 2014, some parts of the world still have no respect for women. From treating them like possessions to domestic violence, the strange societal norms of countries such as Pakistan almost condone the maltreatment of women.

The eastern world has a very different culture from ours and that that different culture may influence a society’s view on women, but I don’t think that ‘culture’ is an acceptable excuse for the outright abuse of women.

Rape is not culture. It’s crime. 

Stories such as this one really highlight the differences between the rights of women in different countries. Does is not now seem a little petty that the feminists of the western world are fighting for the right to have casual sex in the same way men do, while women in Asia are just fighting for the right to say “No!” to unwanted sex?

Compared to some other countries, our rights for women are pretty advanced, even if they do still have some way to go before being equal to the rights of men.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.