Your article (Pakistan reckons with its ‘gender terrorism epidemic’ after murder of Noor Mukadam, 2 August) ends with contact numbers for national domestic violence helplines. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we don’t have any such functional support system. The way crimes against women are treated by society in general, including by those who are supposed to protect women, such as the law enforcement agencies and the justice system, requires serious re-examination.

A few years ago, you also covered the story of Khadija Siddiqi, who was stabbed more than 20 times in broad daylight in Lahore. Recently, the man who assaulted her was released from prison early based on “good conduct”, which included blood donation, completion of a degree and learning the Qur’an. Khadija’s case highlights how victim blaming is institutionalised in our country, and justice often sacrificed on the altar of patriarchal influence. Instead of treating violence against women as a crime, the general narrative revolves around how the woman must have brought it on herself. We need to change this narrative, strengthen the law and take concrete steps to build a system of support to protect women against violence.
Mariam Khan
Lahore, Pakistan

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