Published:  08:28 PM, 31 December 2023

Unmasking the Epidemic of Women’s Abuse

Unmasking the Epidemic of Women’s Abuse Collected Image
Balochistan, situated in the southwestern part of Pakistan, has long grappled with a pervasive issue that casts a dark shadow over the lives of its women. Within the confines of this province, particularly in cities like Quetta and Turbat, a disturbing trend has emerged, revealing a high incidence of women, especially teenage girls, falling victim to various forms of brutality. The urgency to address this deeply rooted problem stems from not just the physical and emotional toll it exacts but also its repercussions on the aspirations and futures of countless women.

In the labyrinth of Balochistan’s challenges, women’s abuse stands out as a critical concern, with teenage girls disproportionately affected. A distressing pattern emerges in Quetta, where young girls, amidst their preparations for the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT), find themselves ensnared in the clutches of cyberbullying. The gravity of this issue cannot be understated, as it not only jeopardizes the well-being of these girls but also obstructs their path to education, a gateway to empowerment.

The Digital Rights Foundation’s 2018 report provides a poignant snapshot of the situation, revealing that a staggering 72 per cent of Pakistani women subjected to cyberbullying had endured various online persecutions, including threats, unwanted messages, and stalking. The impact of this digital onslaught is palpable in the lives of many teenagers, particularly in Balochistan, where the consequences extend beyond the virtual realm. Families, grappling with the fear of cyber brutality, often restrict girls from pursuing education outside the confines of their homes, perpetuating a cycle of ignorance and oppression.

"Families, grappling with the fear of cyber brutality, often restrict girls from pursuing education outside the confines of their homes."

To humanize the stark statistics, one needs to look no further than the tragic story of Garnaz, an 18-year-old girl from Turbat. Her dream of medical education led her to Quetta for MDCAT preparation, but the relentless bullying and threats she faced from a boy proved insurmountable. Garnaz pushed to the brink, took her own life, highlighting not only the individual tragedy but also the systemic failure to protect young girls from the scourge of cyberbullying.

To confront this multifaceted issue, Balochistan must embark on a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of women’s abuse. Education and awareness campaigns, specifically tailored to debunk gender stereotypes and promote equality, should be at the forefront. Schools, as pillars of societal development, must become spaces where conversations about consent, healthy relationships, and the consequences of abuse are normalized.

Legislative measures must also play a pivotal role. Stricter laws against cyberbullying and other forms of abuse, coupled with swift and decisive action against perpetrators, can serve as a deterrent. By creating an environment where the legal system actively protects the rights and safety of women, Balochistan can signal a commitment to eradicating abuse.

Additionally, establishing robust support systems is imperative. Shelters, alliances, and counselling services can provide a lifeline for those facing abuse, offering not just a refuge but also a pathway to recovery. Breaking the silence surrounding abuse and encouraging victims to seek help is essential in dismantling the stigma associated with being a survivor.

As Balochistan grapples with the urgent need to address women’s abuse, a call to action echoes. From educational reforms to legal measures and support structures, a concerted effort is required to forge a society where every woman feels safe, valued, and free from the shackles of abuse. By facing the harsh realities, acknowledging the heartbreaking stories like that of Garnaz, and collectively working towards a safer future, Balochistan can rewrite the narrative for its women, ensuring they emerge from the shadows into a brighter, more empowered tomorrow.

Pen & Ink by: Mahtab Nisar (The writer is a freelance columnist.)

>> Source: Daily Times

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