Abuse Follows Pakistan’s Women

- Updated

Women around the world face online abuse, but in Pakistan, with its entrenched culture of discrimination and violence against women, the threats are not idle. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, about 500 Pakistani women are killed each year by family members who believe their honor has been damaged if a female relative refuses an arranged marriage, socializes with men or even claps and sings at a wedding.

In a country where 33 million people use Facebook and at least five million are on Twitter, social media has become a frequent platform for obscene and virulent outbursts. In some cases, online abuse has incited physical violence.

“Instead of responding to my accusations or proving that I am wrong, people are saying throw acid on me?” Ms. Wazir said in a telephone interview. “I can’t believe they have fallen to this level, but it is just part of a larger culture encouraged by the society and political parties here.”

. . .

Yet online activity has still led to real-life violence, including in July of last year, when Qandeel Baloch, a social media sensation, was strangled in what is known as an honor killing. When Ms. Baloch’s brother was arrested in connection with her death, he said at a news conference that he had killed her because he was incensed over her risqué Facebook posts.

Nighat Dad, the executive director of the Digital Rights Foundation, a Pakistani internet advocacy group, said, “There is a culture of violence against women that already exists in the home, the workplace, in public places, and now it is increasingly manifesting itself in online spaces as well.”

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