(By Kashif Shamim Siddiqui)
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated every year on November 25 to create awareness about this global problem. It is a United Nations-designated day marked to create awareness of the different types of violence faced by women, promoting advocacy, and creating better opportunities for women.
On this day, our hearts are burdened by a harsh reality. The question looms: how much longer will sexual and gender-based violence persist, overshadowing these commemorative “days” while countless innocent girls continue to endure suffering? Recent events, notably the Ranipur case and the tragic stories of Daya Bheel and Noor Mukadam have thrust this issue into the limelight, exposing the pervasive nature of violence within our society.
The distressing surge in reports of violence against women is deeply perplexing. Women and girls not only face torment but also grapple with horrific brutality, often leading to their tragic deaths. These acts leave behind dismembered remains in desolate locations like empty lots, trash bins, or squalid drains. The families of these victims endure a painful wait for justice, an elusive quest following these brutal crimes.
Concurrently, forced marriages of young girls remain disturbingly prevalent, persisting even in regions with legislation to combat the practice, such as Sindh. The provinces of Punjab, KPK, and Balochistan grapple with escalating incidents of child marriages. Tragically, many of these young brides succumb to untimely deaths due to factors like anemia, malnutrition, poverty, and inadequate medical facilities, exacerbated by childbirth at a young age.
To comprehend the depth of sexual, physical, and gender-based violence, especially in impoverished regions of Pakistan, NGOs dedicated to addressing these issues play a crucial role. When tragic incidents occur, civil society responds promptly with steadfast dedication, amplified by the dissemination of these stories through social media, television, and newspapers. However, despite protests and demonstrations, an unsettling silence often follows, lingering indefinitely.
In this modern age, civil society and various media platforms have emerged as robust support systems for the oppressed. These platforms are now vital allies for the underprivileged. Reflecting on incidents like Ranipur raises the question: would progress have been possible without public attention?
The crucial point is the unwavering attention the helpless and oppressed deserve from start to finish. This commitment must stem from multiple quarters—civil society, media, and individuals tirelessly advocating for change.
Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us pledge to adopt a comprehensive approach to end oppression and injustice. It’s our collective responsibility to ensure the suffering of young girls and women doesn’t go unnoticed. Let’s stand resolutely committed to combatting sexual and gender-based violence, taking tangible actions to bring an end to these days of suffering. Change is overdue, and it begins with each one of us.