From a man’s perspective: Why Pakistani men murder women for saying ‘no’

Published: September 9, 2018

The basic problem is that men who are rejected fail to find a way to come to terms with it. PHOTO: PINTEREST

As cases keep coming to the forefront on a regular basis, the question of why Pakistani women are killed for rejecting male advances will sooner or later have to be answered. The killing of a young medical student, Asma Rani, and the stabbing of Khadija Siddiqui were still fresh on our minds, but it didn’t end there; the incidents just kept on coming.

Not too long ago, news emerged of 19-year-old Mahwish Arshad, the sole breadwinner of her family, being shot and killed for rejecting a proposal. Last year, 19-year-old Tania Khaskheli was gunned down in her own home after resisting a kidnapping bid and rejecting the marriage proposal of an influential man with links to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The year before that, Maria Sadaqat, a 19-year-old teacher, was badly tortured and then set ablaze in Murree for the crime of rejecting a proposal, and later passed away after succumbing to her injuries. These are just a few of the cases that have gained the nation’s attention. Many have taken place in this year alone.

Pakistani activists estimate that there are about a 1,000 honour killings every year.

What is it that prompts such a brutal and violent reaction, one that makes humanity shudder? There is perhaps no one answer, but restricting the debate strictly to our own society, we can assume a range of factors that lead men to carry out such ruthless and barbaric crimes.

Men in Pakistani society are possessive by nature. There is a strong desire in men to be authoritative and exert control over women, which stems from their upbringing in their homes and by society at large. They have grown up in a world which overtly favours men. As children, boys are always preferred over their sisters. Not just parents, but even grandparents are found to love male grandchildren more than female grandchildren.

Not only do boys grow up with unconditional love, they also grow up seeing how their fathers control their mothers. While they are free to roam around and come and go as they please, their sisters have to stay inside the house and never leave without explicit permission. Boys have a choice when it comes to who they want to marry, while their sisters will have their partner thrust on them by the entire family. This has become the social norm in our society, and is the reality most men and women find themselves in. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise to see men demand control over women, and react badly when it is denied, for our men are not used to being denied.

The irony remains that this practice is common in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, while the practice of coercing women into forced marriages is in violation of not only Islamic laws but also Pakistani laws. Yet most Pakistani Muslims continue to engage in what is clearly a cultural practice deeply embedded in our society.

Any desire by women to exert their own choice over their lives – be it over their careers or their marital prospects – is viewed as a threat to the male dominance entrenched in our society, and ignites the worst form of fury, especially in the men who have been found guilty in the aforementioned cases. After all, rejecting a marriage proposal is not a crime, neither is it shameful for a man to have been rejected. Just as men have the right to ask, women have the right to deny. Then why is it that men who feel ashamed at being rejected feel no shame in committing murder and getting caught for it?

While it has become a necessity to look into the backgrounds of these perpetrators in order to understand whether a problematic childhood, substance abuse or mental illness is to blame, it is undeniable that the intention is always malicious. A rejection is viewed as an insult, which becomes a punishable offence, for which these men do not rest until they have annihilated the victim. This is certainly an evil that no number of personal problems or childhood issues can justify.

The basic problem is that men who are rejected fail to find a way to come to terms with it. Having grown up in a system that always favours them and gives them almost all rights and control over women, these men fail to navigate the dynamics of consent, of the woman’s right to say no.

When men like women, they come to believe they own them, especially abusive men who cannot imagine a world where a woman has a choice and they are not in control. You will often see a man continue courting a woman, even when the woman rejects his advances and all odds seem fuelled against him. Everything, from our culture to our media and films to our mindset, tells men to continue and never accept no for an answer. Ultimately, women are treated as commodities and not human beings with rights.

The coldblooded murder of women for such baseless reasons has become an epidemic that must be addressed urgently. After all, how many more women, how many more Khadijas and Asmas will it take to compel a change in this evil mindset?

For decades women have been victims of violence and abuse in Pakistan; from domestic abuse to honour killings to rape, there is no relief. It’s time we accept that brutality is the reality of the world we live in. Yes, we need laws to be actively enforced and stricter punishments to be meted out, but we also need to raise our boys to look at girls and women as people, as equals, rather than as commodities to exert their control over.

The mindset cannot and will not change overnight, but effective legal enforcement and more widespread condemnation is the least we can do to set a positive precedent in our society and serve as a deterrent to protect women from male violence.

Samir Ayub

Samir Ayub

The author is an aspiring journalist finally ready to face the harsh realities of life and a cruel and merciless world.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Eddied

    so basically it is the confused, antiquated, misogynist mindset of Pakistani men that causes this problem?…and what is Pakistan doing about solving this issue? the answer is NOTHING?…in fact your government is now becoming more backward and intolerant under Imran Khan…things will probably get much worse before they get better…Recommend

  • SHAH S

    The Pakistani so called Muslims, the false & deceiving champions of Islam, among other things and boys, treat women as tools serving their manhood; This is what they are done with, handled and used by clerics in Madrassas and are taught to believe in. Any dark shadow or rejection reflect very badly on Pakistani Muslims manhood and then they seek to eliminate such threat without using their brains, which normally is between their legs; This is my Pakistani Muslim educated trained in Madrassas run by criminal crooks, devils children, and are the real Khawarij;Recommend

  • Yasir Khan

    Well, there are a few instances of such incidence that happened in Pakistan but that doesn’t mean we all Pakistanis are misogynist. A vast majority of women in the west are raped every single day. How about you society?

    People in my area respect their daughters, sisters and mothers more than their other male counterparts. As far as Imran Khan is concerned, I am not from his party but he is the only politician who has done and will yet to do a lot for the empowerment of women in Pakistan. Educated and urbanised women in Pakistan are as empowered as women in any corner of the world, however, it is the responsibility of governments and non governmental organisations to educate the masses in rural areas, provide them opportunities for socialisation which will in turn pave the way to a feminist, egalitarian and peaceful society.Recommend

  • Eddied

    Who told you most women in America are raped everyday? that is a blatant LIE..Recommend

  • Arsalan

    Using word ‘Pakistani’ in headline surely attracts attention but it was not necessary. You are trying to portray that it happens in Pakistan only. Unless you have any factual data to support this claim that such incidents are more frequent in Pakistan than other countries, you really have no right to associate label of ‘Pakistani’ with this crime and blame our society, culture, mentality etc.

    Following are a few recent news headlines from some countries. You can google them and it was only tip of iceberg because you will find many more.

    UK (Nov 2017): Man strangles and kills teenager for rejecting his marriage proposal
    Malaysia (Feb 2018): Woman killed for rejecting marriage proposal
    India (Dec 2017): 16-year-old killed girl for rejecting proposal: Cops
    USA (Nov 2017): Man Kills Woman After She Rejects Marriage ProposalRecommend

  • “A vast majority of women in the west are raped every single day.” What an informed statement! Jesus Christ!Recommend

  • Trey

    I dislike IK and have always hated the rut Pak has been in, and definitely a major setback in rights when PTI did an about face and bowed down to religous bigots and fundamentalist extremists to discriminate against a qualified minority citizen they hired and then fired recently.

    However, I really don’t know if anyone can take seriously this unfortunate superior moral lecturing, which seems trollish, considering the hypocrisy and likely prejudiced place this hyperbolic criticism of all Pakistani men and it’s government on sexism, misogyny, intolerance and regression comes from someone in the US who very likely supported the very definition of all those things multiplied by vulgarity and depravity representing toxic racial and religous white male fundamentalist identity politics in Trump to be their head of state.

    If it comes from a place of sincere concern, then I apologize. However, the optics suggest otherwise.

    Regardless, there needs to be greater conversation and action on this dire issue of toxic environment in Pak along with development of everything else such as equality, education, law, health, etc while simultaneously undoing backwardness, paranoia, privilege, fundamentalism, incompetence, corruption, etc. It’s not just a women’s issue or men’s issue. It’s an issue for now and future generations.Recommend

  • Ahsan Shafiq

    Why does it always have to be a discussion in comparison to other societies. Its more important to focus on that such a mindset exists in the Pakistani society (or ones own society that he or she belong to). I am very sure that the writer did not intend to send a message that there are no exceptions at all. What should be worry some is that it exists and that needs to change, should have changed yesterday.

    Why do we always have to look up to a political leader who will serve as a messiah? Yes it will be helpful, indeed a lot. But grass root change starts with the masses.

    Why do we always have to criticize the writer or for that matter anyone, but ourselves. Why don’t we engage in a dialogue to suggest some ideas on how to curb this type of behavior. Not a very out of the box suggestion, but why don’t we already have this issue included in our curriculum for students (of all ages). We need champions for this cause, lots of them, each one of us.Recommend

  • rumi52

    Its sad to see that many of the comments here, interestingly most are by men, are taking this article as an insult on Pakistan. Maybe this is another example of of hurt male ego. After all this article is saying there may be a problem among some Pakistani men’s attitude towards women, this article is therefore seen as an “attack” on Pakistani men and so naturally the men have come out saying “its not true” “other countries also have a problem”. Firstly this is a Pakistani news site so it will highlight the behavior of Pakistani men. And just because other countries may have similar problems this should not be an excuse for bad behavior. Its like two children fighting and when you tell them off for hitting each other, one child will say in his defence ‘he hit me first’ even when the other child has blood coming out. Look most of the men in my family and my in-laws totally respect their sisters, wives and mothers. Most would not dream of forcing their women folk into a marriage. But thats my family. I know of Pakistani women who have been abused by their families and it totally amazes me the jahiliyat thinking of some Pakistani men and women.

    Instead of trying to look at the behavior in other countries please sort out your own house.Recommend

  • AJ

    I agree with your point of view. Ironically I have seen that it is primarly women themselves; mothers, grandmothers or aunties, who make boys feel like they own the world. This makes it difficult to prepare them for the real world.Recommend

  • Rohitt Sharma

    Pot calling kettle. You seem to forget that Americans rape and murder their women the most. They have the highest rape and domestic abuse rate in the world.Recommend

  • Rohitt Sharma

    One in four women in America has been raped. It is the most common incident in an American woman’s life. Over 60,000rapes happened in the US military alone. And twice as many among the civilian Americans. These are official statistics from the FBI and Pentagon.Recommend

  • Eddied

    what a pile of lies…invented statistics that are not based on facts or truth…Recommend