`Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah ... said: `This is a metropolitan city, not a tribal area where jirgas are held. I would not allow such kind of barbarianism here [sic]`.
At the age of around three, the daughter of a domestic worker in Karachi started to inexplicably lose weight. After months of ignoring the issue, the mother finally approached her employer, whose first question was whether the child got enough to eat and if her diet was a balanced one.
On Thursday, Pakistan finally managed a step that ought to go some distance towards discouraging and punishing two of the most heinous crimes that are committed against the beleaguered women of this land. The Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015 and Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015, originally piloted by PPP legislator Sughra Imam, had been left hanging for months. Passed by the Senate in March 2015, they lapsed because they were not taken up by National Assembly; the only way to secure their passage into law had been through a joint sitting of parliament.
The availability of cheap labour and low levels of educational/ economic opportunity, to say nothing of the insufficiency of jobs and the surfeit of both poverty and people, make it one of Pakistan’s unsurprising realities that any household that can afford to employ domestic staff does so. ‘Afford’ is a relative term — those who live in posh mansions might require a small army to keep the place in order; their more modestly placed middle-income compatriots also generally have the luxury of employing someone to help out.
That Pakistan is a hostile terrain for women is widely known. The vast majority of the poor have little choice but to carry on with life as best as they can, holding out in the hope that the state and its set of laws, law enforcement and justice systems will be able to protect their freedoms and dignity.