The Impact of Patriarchal Society on Women’s Rights in Pakistan


Gender, class, ethnicity, sectarianism, and religion are just a few of the glaring inequalities that Pakistan is struggling with. However, the gender disparity that permeates social, public, and governmental structures currently casts a negative light on the state. Pakistan is now among the most dangerous places on the earth for women, according to a recent global survey. A substantial portion of Pakistanis have not taken advantage of Islamic teachings on the rights of women despite the country’s conception as an Islamic state. Although most Pakistani women find themselves oppressed and victimized by their own relatives, Islamic teachings provide comprehensive protection and security for women.

Pakistan is one of the most appalling countries for women, ranking a dismal 164 out of 167 on the Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace, and Security index. This is due to the deeply ingrained patriarchal nature of Pakistani society, which feeds a vicious cycle of gender-based violence. Surprisingly, domestic violence practices propel Pakistan to an abhorrent fifth place, giving it the deplorable honor of being the sixth most dangerous country for women overall.

Unsettling data from domestic surveys paint a sobering picture, with indications pointing to a shocking 70% to 90% of married women in Punjab alone being subjected to different types of abuse, physical, psychological, or economic, at the hands of their coldhearted spouses. However, the horrifying phenomenon of economic abuse or violence is still shrouded in relative obscurity despite concerted efforts to analyze the multifaceted violence experienced by women in Pakistan.

In addition, economic violence, a corrosive manifestation of male dominance, includes sneaky strategies designed to take control over a woman’s ability to obtain, use and maintain economic resources, ruthlessly jeopardizing her financial security and self-reliance capacity. This abhorrent practice exists entirely within Pakistan’s territory and manifests itself in many nefarious ways. The lack of factual data makes it challenging to determine the extent of economic violence experienced by women in the state, though. It is regrettable that when research is done, this kind of abuse is frequently carelessly grouped in with emotional or mental abuse or, worse, outright ignored.

However, the judiciary, the supreme bulwark of the state, is given the greatest weight as it is charged with enforcing fair punishment in response to heinous assaults on women’s bodies. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to construct a fortress-like haven where women can begin the arduous process of pursuing their legal grievances while being protected from the dangers of an uncaring environment. The inclusion of women jurists in the highest levels of both the upper and lower courts is essential because it will give women a profound sense of acknowledgment and confidence as they present their cases to the judiciary. In addition, it is the judiciary’s duty to give gender-based violence issues unwavering precedence, swiftly resolving such heinous cases with due diligence and assiduity.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan is still firmly rooted in a male-dominated society where women continue to fight valiantly for their basic rights, despite the explicit guarantees of respect, safety, and equality for women in Islam and the 1973 Pakistani constitution. Numerous amendments to the constitution have been proposed to strengthen the political and economic rights of women, but the state’s appalling record in enforcing its own laws to protect them is nothing short of appalling. A number of female politicians, most notably Benazir Bhutto, perished prematurely as a result of their courage in speaking out against extremists and anti-female forces.

Moreover, women are often mistreated by law enforcement organizations such as the police and army. The privileged elite, the middle class, and the marginalized lower class continue to be the three main groups in which Pakistani women are classified today. The unfair treatment of each social group contributes to a widespread tradition of honor killings, forced unions, and unprovoked violence against women. This mistreatment even extends to the women elected to the national parliament, where they are frequently made fun of by their male colleagues. Undoubtedly, Pakistani women have the ability and aptitude to excel in all areas of human endeavor.

Lastly, it is essential to raise awareness about the various forms of violence against women among key stakeholders, including various tiers of healthcare provision, media establishments, religious figures, and the general public. However, a startling two-thirds of women in Pakistan live in rural areas where there are generally few resources, technological advancements, and financial support, revealing a significant gap in intervention efforts. Thus, women in Pakistan are subject to deeply ingrained cultural practices that frequently exhibit oppressive, possessive, objectifying, and exploitative tendencies, turning them into nothing more than pawns used as bargaining chips.

Unfortunately, women still live in a chauvinistic, male-dominated society where their talents are suppressed and their aspirations are limited. The hard work and unwavering support of their loved ones have allowed the fortunate few who enjoy safety, protection, and success in their careers to succeed. These chosen individuals lack enough clout to change society as a whole or establish themselves as significant pillars of the country.

Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali is associated with the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). He has written for Pakistan Today, Pakistan Observer, Global Affairs, and numerous other publishers. He tweets at @hafiznadirali7 and can be reached at hafiznadirali7[at]