Define gender-based violence. Explain various forms of violence against women in Pakistan and devise some practical strategies which can be helpful in the eradication of gender-based violence.


CSS Solved Gender Studies Past Paper 2023 | Define gender-based violence. Explain various forms of violence against women in Pakistan and devise some practical strategies which can be helpful in the eradication of gender-based violence.

The following question of Gender Studies is solved by Ateeqa Atia Ul Musawar , the highest scorer in CSS Gender Studies. Moreover, the question is attempted on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Question Breakdown

The focus of this particular article is on gender-based violence within the context of Pakistan. The central theme of this article would be that, basically, what are the numerous forms of violence that contributed towards the subjugation of women in Pakistan? Owing to this, the numerous case studies will enrich thoughts to understand the real meaning and crucial impacts of violence. Besides, under this question, a reader gets to learn about the steps that have been taken by the executive bodies and the governmental institutions to combat the plight of women in Pakistan. In addition, this article will unwrap the arguments hidden beneath the shades of criticism of the current situation and the gap between theory and practice in feminist scholarship, and the real lacunas to endorse equality. 


1- Introduction
2- Defining the gender-based violence
3- Delineating the types of gender-based violence

  • ✓Direct violence
  • ✓Indirect violence
    • Cultural-based violence
    • Structural-based violence

4- Understanding the categories and forms of violence

  • ✓Physical abuse
    • Case in point -Noor Muqaddam’s case
  • ✓Sexual violence
    • Case in point-Mukhtaran Mai’s case
  • ✓Psychological aggression
    • Case in point- Asma Aziz’s case
  • ✓Domestic violence
    • Case in point- Madiha’s case
  • ✓Honor Killing
    • Case in point-Qandeel Baloch’s case
  • ✓Vanni- A social practice
    • Case in point- Shazia’s case ( Girls as compensation )

5-Initiatives taken by the governmental bodies through legislation
6-Devising practical strategies to combat gender-based violence
7-Conclusive Remarks

Answer to the Question

Violence against women is the front-line war against women

Pearl Cleage


A surge in sexual violence against women has reached epidemic proportions in Pakistan, but it is nothing new in the third-worst country due to women’s plight. From the horrific molestation of Zainab to the inexcusable sexual abuse of Mukhtaran Mai, Pakistan has always portrayed itself as a safe haven for the disturbing condition of violence, particularly physical violence. The goosebump escalation in cases of physical abuse against women is undoubtedly the byproduct of centuries-old causes within the boundaries of Pakistan. The social structural dichotomies declaring women as passive characters and men as active agents have rooted the germs of the abysmal state of women. But unfortunately, this is not the ultimately responsible factor behind the wretched condition of women. The day-after-day increase in the harrowing condition of Pakistani women is primarily due to the crumbling situation of strict enforcement of the law and utter failure of justice. It is the core reason why 70 to 80 percent of the population in Pakistan is experiencing the plight of domestic violence, besides the huge threat of sexual harm. The judicial body and the law enforcement wing do not consider such a sensitive matter a grave concern, despite the presence of a stock of legislative measures and Acts against any offense of violence. It seems as if the pile of new laws to protect the women of Pakistan have done little to change the attitudes and frightening practices. There is a treasure trove of valuable laws against violence against women, yet the law enforcement organ lags behind the implementation of statutory provisions in true letter and spirit. Police remain reluctant even to register an FIR in the same manner as victims are reluctant to open the discussion about the vile sexual abuse. Seeing this, most of the time police register such cases as “unnatural offenses” rather than “rape,” therefore permanently hindering any chance of convicting the perpetrator. Victims are often forced to settle matters with the offender. Not only this but doubts are also raised about the veracity of sexual abuse. Adding fuel to the fire, the threat of social stigma to honor the victim’s family further paralyzed the proceedings against the nuisance of sexual violence. Adding insult to injury, the despotic practice of biased verdicts against women by courts puts a question mark on the honor of women. Owing to this, maltreatment against women is becoming the fate of Pakistan, resulting in a boom in sexual crimes. Therefore, Pakistan is destined to face the repercussions, sometimes in the form of a motorway incident and, on the other hand, sometimes through the Farishta murder case. A country like Pakistan, which ranked 150th out of 153 in the Women, Peace, and Security Index, has made the safe survival of women difficult. The severe failure on the part of the police and judicial body, to cope with the intimidating challenge of sexual plight is further boosting the confidence of offenders besides leading the victims towards social seclusion. Similarly, the patriarchal-influenced society in Pakistan has cultivated misogynist elements to such an extent that incidents of sexual abuse and acid-throwing by angry predators continue to permanently put women in hot water, often leading to painful deaths or suicides. Many a time, the issue of sexual abuse was addressed by human rights activists, including renowned women’s rights activist Asma Jahangir, but the efforts remained futile. Although perpetrators of such crimes can be penalized through the deterrent of life imprisonment, there is also the predicament of judicial activism. Therefore, it is necessary to accept the naked truth that legal and judicial loopholes enable the offender to commit sexual crimes.

Defining the gender-based violence

“Any act that causes or is likely to cause bodily, sexual, or psychological harm to women is considered to be gender-based violence or violence against women.”

-Association for women’s rights in development

“The purposeful use of physical force or power, whether threatened or used, against women or another person, or community which result in or are highly likely to result in suffering (including bodily or psychological), death, or developmental problems is defined as gender-based violence”

-Human Rights Watch

“The term “gender-based violence” refers to violence that targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, as well as women, girls, boys, men, and adolescents in order to reinforce structural gender disparities. Gender relations either impact or are influenced by gender-based violence, which is primarily male-patterned aggression.”

-Equality Now

Delineating the types of gender-based violence

There are numerous types of violence regarding to its nature and the harm it causes to the numerous genders. John Galtung particularly divided gender-based violence, particularly in two types i.e., direct violence and indirect violence

Types of Violence – Image by Google
  • Direct violence

Physical acts of aggression, such as a man striking his wife, bullying in schools, or soldiers fighting in battle, are considered direct violence. In the context of gender-based violence physical violence, domestic violence, sexual torture, and acid attacks fall within the category of direct violence. Besides, killing in the name of honor is also enumerated in the type of direct violence. Verbal abuse, for example, also falls under the category of direct violence besides battery and rape.

  • Indirect violence

Indirect refers to the ways under which the societal institutions, systems, or cultural orientation of the society can hurt or disadvantage people. The use of political-cultural or economic power to inflict violence on a person or a particular group of people is referred to as indirect violence. The examples which can be enumerated in indirect violence are

  1. Girls as compensation (the practice of Vanni)
  2. Denial of the rights of inheritance
  3. Culture of sexism
  4. Acceptance of ageism (discrimination against old age)
  5. Pro- elitism-based violence
  6. Discrimination against minorities
  7. Forced and child marriages
  8. Trafficking of women and girls
  • Cultural violence
    Cultural violence refers to those facets of a culture (beliefs, values, and methods of living) that give violence legitimacy and make it appear like a reasonable way to resolve disputes. It is also how a group of people sees themselves in connection to one another, to the world, and to themselves. It frequently encourages arrogance and dehumanization of people from other cultures. Within the context of gender-based violence, girls being presented as compensation to others as blood price falls in the category of the cultural violence
  • Structural violence
    The violence that is ingrained in the fundamental social, political, and economic structures that rule over societies, nations, and the entire planet is known as structural violence. It is the distinct ways in which various classes, sexes, nations, and other groups are allotted resources, opportunities, and products while many others are being deprived of them. Making the poor poorer through the structural method of corruption is one example of structural violence.
Galtung’s Triangle and the division of violence into different types – Image by Google

Understanding the categories and forms of gender-based violence

  • ✓Physical abuse

Any action that employs unlawful physical force to hurt another person physically is called physical violence which falls into direct violence.  Serious or insignificant assaults, deprivations of liberty, manslaughter, strangling, stabbing to death, and burning are only a few examples of how physical Sexual violence

Case in point
Noor muqaddam case-2022
Noor Muqaddam was assaulted, beheaded, and murdered by Zahir Jaffer in Islamabad.

  • ✓Sexual violence

Any sexual act carried out or done on a person without that person’s consent falls in the category of sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault are two examples of sexual violence.

Case in point
Mukhtaran Mai case- 2002
Mukhtaran Mai was sexually assaulted and gang-raped by one of the clans of her village (Mastoi clan). She was raped as punishment due to his brother’s alleged relationship with women of that clan.

  • ✓Psychological aggression

Any action that harms a person’s mental health besides physical violence falls in the category of psychological aggression.  Examples of psychological violence include coercion, defamation, verbal abuse, and harassment.

Case in point
Asma Aziz case-2019
Asma was psychologically and physically tortured by her husband. She was beaten by her husband besides shaving her head for not dancing in front of her husband’s friends.

  • ✓Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not a myth or novel phenomenon in Pakistan. There are hundreds of stories of women who are suffering exploitation in their homes.  There is a pile of reasons which provoke the triggering acts of domestic violence. The most common is the reason for dowry.

Case in point
Madiha case -2020
Madiha, a 22-year-old girl was put to death after she was doused with petrol and then set on fire. Her only crime was that she was unable to provide the motorcycle to her husband in the dowry.

  • ✓Honor Killing (Karo-Kari)

Crimes committed in the name of honor are so common that these seem do not buzz word to the ears. It seems as the society has been ingrained through these crimes and nothing can be changed.

Case in point
Qandeel Baloch case-2016
Qandeel Baloch on July 15 (2016) was asphyxiated by her brother Waseem and she was put to death after strangling in Multan in the name of honor.

“There really still is a deep wound, you know, in the collective psyche of Pakistan. And the violence has left an enormous human and emotional psyche.”

Mohsin Hamid
  • ✓Vanni- A Social Practice (Girls as Compensation)

People around the globe are living in the 21st century but Pakistanis are still living in the cave ages. In this country even in this developed age women are ill-treated and are in the chains of cultural practice. They are devoid of their fundamental rights in the name of cultural diplomacy. There are a number of corrosive practices to suffocate fraternity, liberty, and equality for women. Among them, Vanni is one of the corrosive cultural practices. It has alternative names in different regions of Pakistan. In KPK it is called Swara, n Baluchistan as SungChatti, and in Punjab as Vanni. In this woman is presented as a blood price to the heirs of the victim in obedience to numerous cultural and tribal norms.

Case in point
Shazia case – 2021
Abdul Rehman gave her daughter and nephew to the village of Chah- Hathi Khelawala in Mianwali (Punjab Province of Pakistan) as a Vani for peace. It resulted from a murder 10 years ago.  Zia-Ullah Khan, Muhammad Khan, and a few respectable individuals made up the punchait (male elders’ decision-making assembly), which imposed a fine of five lacks or two girls, Kiran and Shazia, aged five and under, as a Vani. Hence, the aggressor party chose to hand the girl up.

Other forms of gender-based violence

  1. Femicide, or the murdering of a woman for being female
  2. Domestic violence, involving violence against family members and intimate partners
  3. Workplace violence and harassment
  4. Sexual exploitation
  5. Feminization of the genitalia
  6. Child marriage and forced unions
  7. Crimes of honors
  8. Domestic abuse (the taking of a woman’s possessions without her consent)
  9. Human trafficking
  10. Burning of women
Numerous forms of violence – Image by Google

Initiatives taken by the governmental bodies through legislation

  • ✓The Muslims’ Family laws Ordinance, 1961
  • ✓Protection of Women Act, 2006
  • ✓The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2010
  • ✓The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment), 2011
  • ✓Domestic violence and Protection Act, 2012
  • ✓National Commission on the Status of Women Act, 2012
  • ✓Zainab Alert, Responsive and Recovery Act, 2020

Devising practical strategies to combat gender-based violence

In Pakistan, there is a need to put workable strategies on their way to overcome gender-based violence in Pakistan.  There are no two opinions that there exists a huge gap between practice and theory, therefore practicable strategies should be adopted to ensure the eradication of gender-based violence.

  • ✓Investing more in gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • ✓Generating awareness through seminars and conferences that women are not second-rate citizens
  • ✓Ratifying the treaties and conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory in true letter and spirit
  • ✓Ensure that women must know their rights and raise their voices against their exploitation
  • ✓Improving women’s access to quality and safe education
  • ✓Stop considering domestic violence as a private affair
  • ✓Ulemas and religious scholars should be taken on the board to endorse the true meaning and status of women in Islam
  • ✓Promote the role of women in the political and social affairs
  • ✓Addressing the socio-cultural norms and stringent stereotypes
  • ✓Equality for women must not be considered taboo
  • ✓Cursory role of media should be enhanced to make efforts toward the eradication of violence
  • ✓Parliamentary debates should be conducted on the menace and removal of gender-based violence.
  • ✓Call for response and services
  • ✓Mobilize the youth to fight harmful practices
  • ✓Transform the attitudes toward harmful practices
  • ✓Take a stand against the aggressive forces.

There has to be a shift in the culture. We have to have conversations about systems that are in place that allow sexual violence to flourish.

Tirana Burke

Conclusive remarks

In Pakistan, violence against women is both illegal and socially acceptable. Despite the fact that the nation has laws to protect women from violence, the state appears to have relinquished its duty to uphold them. Men have their own ways of exploitation of women in Pakistan. It can be either domestic violence through stove burning, strangling, or many more ways in the name of dowry. Men in this patriarchal society have the complete right to perish the integrity and self-worth of women through any means. The dilemma of the society of Pakistan is that men consider themselves the sole earner, the sole owner, and the sole ones responsible to eradicate the liberty of women. Therefore, even honor killing is not a challenging phenomenon in Pakistan. Owing to this, the rank of Pakistan as the second worst country after Afghanistan in the case of treatment of women is not a shocking phenomenon. Further, the lacunas in the implementation of legislation in true letter and spirit aggravated the situation of violence at an intolerable pace. In Pakistan, women and the state have an inherently contradictory relationship. Regarding this, the apathy is that on the one hand, the state grants women rights in the form of constitutional protections, but on the other, it denies these rights by refusing to put these laws into effect or take steps to foster the conditions necessary for the realization of these rights. Therefore, there is a strict need for workable and practical strategies to combat the any form of violence so that women can enjoy the same status as granted by Islam.

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