Amidst prevailing gender discrimination and violence, these steps are needed to empower women

The condition of women in Pakistan is miserable, to say the least.The World Economic Forum has placed Pakistan as the second worst country in terms of gender equality in its global gender index.

The index placed Pakistan at 143rd out of 144 countries, while our neighboring countries are better than us. Bangladesh is ranked at 47 whereas India is placed at 108.

Gender discrimination continues worldwide. Violence against women is the most extreme kind of discrimination.

According to a UNO report, data from 87 countries was collected from 2005 to 2016. It revealed that 19 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their life.

About 35 percent of women across the world have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

According to a survey conducted in 2016, more than 1 in 4 women in Washington DC, United States, have experienced some kind of sexual harassment on public transportation. About 750 million girls are getting married before 18 years of age worldwide.

Another survey of 2015 states that around 23 percent of undergraduate women faced sexual assault in 27 universities in the United States.

In Pakistan, most of the cases against female harassment or violence go unreported. According to the Human Rights Watch 2009 report, about 70 to 90 percent of women in Pakistan have suffered some form of abuse.

An estimated 5,000 women are killed every year due to domestic violence. In Pakistan, about every second woman faces domestic violence such as abduction, murder, domestic violence, suicide, honor killing, rape, sexual assault, acid throwing and burning.

A few days ago, a 16-year-old girl was humiliated as she was paraded naked through the streets of DI Khan. While this is just one case which went viral on the media, there are several unreported cases of harassment and abuse in our society.

Recently, another case of harassment in a university appeared when the Supreme Court sent notice to Sindh University registrar for probing of alleged harassment complaints by the female students of the university.

There are many acid attack cases in our country. It is mostly women who do not accept marriage proposals that are the victims of these acid attacks. This thing shows the sick mentality of society.

Another aspect of the plight of women is the social restrictions they face. In rural areas, women are not as free as they are in urban areas. The condition of women in rural areas is worse than urban areas.

Educating girls is not considered important in the rural areas of Pakistan. These girls are forced into early marriage instead. Child marriage puts girls in a state of physical and mental disturbance. After marriage, often, women face domestic violence in their homes and are tortured for various reasons.

The government must establish harassment cells in all offices and educational institutions. Girls should be encouraged in all fields, especially when it comes to education. The government must take steps to ensure that child marriage laws are implemented in proper spirit and soul, especially in rural areas. These are just a few steps needed for empowering women.

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