* All citizens are equal before law and entitled to equal protection of law
* There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone (Constitution of Pakistan)
In the vein of all other developing countries in the world, Pakistan also has many motifs in its society, which portrays its culture and general behavior. When we talk about social conditions of women in Pakistan then it starts from HER BIRTH, generally the birth of the girl child is not considered blissful, because Pakistan is a developing country that has much higher poverty rate, girls are expected to get married at an early age and stay at home and raise children, not to work in a trade or profession, hence she would not be able to help in supporting the family, and because of the heavy dowry, which is the tradition of our society, parents are expected to pay when their female children are married.
Women are often denied the right to be HEALTHY, according to IHRO’s ‘progress of nation’ Report for 2000, only 26 percent of women between 15 to 49 years of age are attended to by health personnel even once during pregnancy. Pakistan ‘s maternal mortality rate of 350 per every 100,000 Live births stood as one of the very worst in the world. The high birth rate, with an average of over six children per household, exerts a major strain on the welfare of women. The GENDER DESPARITY in term of infant mortality was also starkly visible, with 160 female children dying with in the first years of life for every 1,000 births, as against 100 males. Informal studies also reported that in most household, far greater importance was attached to the welfare of the male child than his female counterpart, contributing to the higher rates of death for female children under the age of 5, as family cannot afford proper health care for all of its children, parents often place a higher emphasis on their son’s health because of their status in society. Women are also denied the rights to nutrition, If food is scarce, husband/father/brother are often given most of the food and women are left with very little to eat.
Women are often expected to do the WORKLOAD of family, they often work long days, sometimes 18 hours, working in the field, factories, market place or as maids and then they also have to fulfill their family requirement, household work, due to their long hours of work , they are often unable to have time for relaxation or recreation.
Women are also often denied their rights to EDUCATION, many families cannot afford to send all of their children to school, there is a continuing belief that there is no benefit to educating a girl child, when she could not be out working and earning money for the family, according to official data, just over 35 percent of women in the country are literate, while the government accepts enrollment rates for girls in primary education, standing according to official estimates at 62 percent, remain low. In this context, Pakistan ranks far behind other South Asian countries and indeed remains amongst the ten lowest-ranking countries of the world in terms of education for girls.
Worse still is the estimate by a number of international agencies that the female literacy rate in the country is in fact falling, with the limited capacity of the educational infra structure unable to meet the demands of a growing population. The gap between girls and boys too is widening, with 92 percent of boys now enrolled at schools.
The disparity opens up further at higher educational levels, translating in to discriminating in term of opportunity, for instance, over 28,000 girls in Karachi, the biggest city of Pakistan, clearing their matriculation examination in the sciences in August 2000 were unable to continue an education in science due to shortage of seats, available spaces in the 33 colleges and 13 higher secondary schools in the country’s largest city offering further education in science stood at only 10,820 as compared to 38,569 female candidates who passed their matriculation in science subjects. The situation for boys showed a vast improvement, with seats unavailable only for 3,000 male matriculations in science. The illiteracy in women and society behavior towards it, is due to the concept that girls are expected to get married and not work in profession. Thus it is believed that educating boys is more important because they are considered to have more future responsibilities for the family’s economical survival. The impact of tradition on women’s lives is often extremely adverse. Considered as property, they are disallowed a choice in matters of great significance to their lives, including marriage, even among educated sections of society, girls are frequently given no say at all in matters of marriage.
The vast social issue of dowry also remains in place, acting as one of the reasons why families prefer the birth of a boy to that of a girl. In rural communities, families reported that one of the most acute financial pressures they faced was the marriage of their daughters. In many cases, the failure of a bride to bring in the kind of dowry her in-laws demanded led to cases of her being abused and mistreated by her husband and his family.
The tribal custom holds still enforced society in chain. Other examples also exist to protect their property from distribution; hundreds of girls each year from Sindhis families are still “married” to the Holy Quran (the holy book of Islam) under this law a woman has to live without a husband throughout her life. But this law is only applied among the class of landlords. They use this only to keep and grab the land of their sisters and daughters. According to a report by an Islamabad-based NGO, there are currently over 5,000 such women in Sindh.
A woman’s right to liberty is restricted in the name of modesty, protection and patchiness of immoral activity. In rural areas 90% of women work in the fields, they work for the whole day with their male family members, but they still have to face their wrath. Male family members keep a strict eye on the female members in the name of “HONOUR”. But one must understand the meaning of honor because in our society honor does not have the meaning of its true sense. Here it really means possession of women as a form of property, and they can be put to death if they lose their HONOUR
According to IHRO (2000) more women became victims of honor killings, including “karo Kari” than ever before, while the rate of all forms of violence against women soared. Every second Pakistani women is now believed to be a direct or indirect victim of VIOLENCE.
In urban areas of Pakistan, many out-dated customs have much less of an influence, because of the fact that women are playing a major role in the generation of family income, they do not carry out “unpaid labor” like rural women, but they are also facing daunting challenges and problems in the cities .