Pakistan: Strong Women’s Human Rights Movement Challenges Gender Violence

Networks of women’s rights groups in Pakistan are leading the fight against gender violence in their country. Experts estimate that gender violence takes place in up to 90 percent of Pakistani households, but activists are pushing back through legal aid, shelter services for survivors, human rights education programs, and advocacy for improved laws. Although activists often face criticism, threats, and violence, they have been steadfast in their efforts and have succeeded in passing laws banning "honor" killing and sexual harassment and in supporting a policy that reserves 30 percent of the seats in parliament for women.

A new study by Filomena Critelli, entitled Struggle and Hope: Challenging Gender Violence in Pakistan, examines the profound contributions of this grass roots movement led by Pakistani women. Her study, which is forthcoming in the journal Critical Sociology, explores the oft-unrecognized strength of the women’s movement in a country better know internationally for fundamentalism, patriarchy, and links to international terrorism. Critelli explains, “It's a movement that often surprises people who do not realize the pluralistic Pakistani culture… one that exists with sometimes contradictory elements that include these strong advocates of women's rights, changing political climates, and traditional patriarchal social orders that inhibit independence of women.”

Compiled fromStruggle and Pakistan’s Women: Activists Challenge Gender ViolenceUniversity at Buffalo News Center. (1 February 2012).