Original article: Pakistan: A Pandora’s Box of Societal Ills
A man from Khanewal, Pakistan buried his newborn daughter alive after doctors informed him that she was physically disabled. The shocking news, once again, raised questions of law and order, ethics, societal norms, and most importantly, women’s rights in the nation. The incident is a solemn reminder and effect of the basic lack of education in Pakistan, where 60% of the population is illiterate. Girls’ schools are few and far between in villages and even boys are encouraged to take up a trade or artisanship instead of getting an education.
In rural areas such as Kacha Koh, where this heinous crime was committed, such activities are commonplace and perpetrators are seldom punished seriously. A patriarchal society such as Pakistan, which treats men as superior to women in the household, gives husbands and fathers license to subjugate and demean women in their families. Another major factor that creates prejudice against physically disabled people is the lack of infrastructure and facilities, which makes life difficult for people with disabilities and discourages their families from accepting them as active members of the society.
In a culture where young women are considered a drain on the family because of the outdated tradition of dowry, a female infant being buried alive because of a physical deformity is not unheard of. It is a reaction to the larger issues of ignorance and superstition which give way to such behavior. Another problem which faces Pakistan today is poverty and inflation which forces the public to take extreme measures.
If a family of four cannot afford to feed themselves, they will most likely turn to illegal or criminal activity. Without education, without community support, without the planning or resources necessary to survive, they will certainly not be able to earn an honest living. Without a doubt, these are the basic reasons for the distressing rise in criminal activity in Pakistan. It is also expected that going to the police or through the court system will only hurt the family, not help them.
If this wasn’t enough, in many rural areas, contraception is either not available or majorly distrusted. Such communities use religion as a political tool in order to make their own law and order and excuse having more kids than they can afford by giving made-up justifications for their actions. It is also a way of forcing women to stay inside the home and create a separation of the genders so that women stay disempowered.
Moving forward, Pakistan desperately needs to invest in education. Like food, water, and shelter, education is a fundamental human right and if a society does not make a conscious effort to educate its population, it will never succeed. Secondly, it is essential for the nation to focus on implementation of law so that such crimes and atrocities are lessened, if not uprooted altogether. Furthermore, Pakistani society needs to empower and value its women who are just as capable, intelligent, persevering, and strong as women in any other society or country. Without these changes, Pakistan will only regress towards inequality, ignorance, and infamy.