Life for women in Pakistan is rife with obstacles towards justice, safety, and equality. With time, it has become evident that there is a very fine line between patriarchy and psychopathological tendencies. What is dubbed patriarchy is often abuse and harassment of women. Pakistan’s society is one in which men are given the upper hand with regard to practical life matters. With the advent of the Internet, attempts to control and harass women have flourished with scant cyber laws that have only recently come into existence and whose implementation is still weak. Indeed, there is much work to be done in granting women their due rights and protecting them from harassment, dictatorship, and injustice by men who would be labelled psychopaths elsewhere.
Where women’s harassment existed mostly offline before the internet age, incidents have increased multifold after its introduction in Pakistan. Many — if not most — Pakistani women have experienced harassment, whether made to feel uncomfortable by gazing eyes and catcalling or as pronounced as groping. With much of the harassment instead occurring through online channels, it may be easier to track and prove a suspect guilty but only if victims are willing to come forward. Most minor cases of harassment probably go unreported; women are stopped from seeking justice or even speaking out due to embarrassment to families and the concept of ‘izzat’. Patriarchal society handicaps women by placing rules and restrictions as well as the family ‘honour’ in a woman’s hands.
Efforts to bring criminals to the book must be galvanised by all relevant government departments whether incidents occur online or offline. The Digital Rights Foundation is lauded for stepping in where government has failed. However, what we call a phenomenon of patriarchy is actually a category of psychopathological men who seek to cause harm to women.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2017.