"In Pakistan 42 percent of women accepted violence as part of their fate, 33 percent felt too helpless to stand up to it, 19 percent protested and 4 percent took action against it." — Government study in Punjab, 2001 (Amnesty International, 2004)
The women and girls of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan are living under a tribal and feudal system that is based on patriarchy. Religious groups present the norms and values of this system as Islamic. A tribal code of culture is followed in the name of Pakhtunwali. The Pakhtunwali has special status that grants recognition to tribal customs and traditions as customary law. It is comprised of notions such as honor, pride, revenge and of institutions such as jirga, council of elders and marrying girls for peace making. Most of the customary institutions, practices and interpretations are highly gender biased. They exclude, marginalize and restrict women’s role in social, political, judicial, public and private spheres and therefore establish the superiority of men over women within the family and society at large. Male authority, prestige and control over resources have also been enhanced by these institutions created through the system of political administration.
The religious extremists are torching girls schools and are attacking the women working in NGOs and teaching in schools. For example, the girl child Malala was brutally attacked for her ideas that women have a right to education.
Pakistan is a country famous for many corrosions of society. It is also well known for harboring an extremely patriarchal culture. Girls marry young, have babies, are expected to be dutiful wives and remain in purdah. A majority of women fall victim to assault and molestation at the hands of sexually repressed men. There are numerous stories of women being harassed in broad daylight. Parents are usually in a state of denial and, instead of dealing with the situation maturely by bringing criminals to light, they close the chapter altogether in order to preserve the "honor" and "shame" of their daughters.
We the young women cannot be silenced much longer and the momentum is stirring within our hopeful, bright-eyed youth. The future generations of Pakistan are successful at spreading the message of love, not hate. Sons and fathers need to be taught that women are not a source of shame but utilitarian, productive and spirited members of society who want to give so much and ask for equality, respect and opportunity in return.