“Violence against Women Legitimised by Arguments of ‘Culture’ – Thought from a Pakistani Perspective”
Farida Shaheed examines violence against women legitimised by arguments of culture from a Pakistani perspective. She departs from the principle that regardless of the nature of its manifestation or where or when it occurs, violence against women is always legitimised by arguments of culture because no society is devoid of culture. The dominant culture throughout the world is patriarchal and the patriarchal culture inevitably accepts violence as an attribute of masculinity. She considers some of the problems Pakistan is facing today, such as confronting both the ‘traditional patriarchal culture’ that denies women’s rights and the ‘new patriarchal culture’ that makes political use of religion and identity politics. She further discusses what the concept of due diligence requires in the Pakistani context, for example with respect to women’s representation within minority or subaltern cultures and informal dispute resolution forums challenging women’s rights. Farida Shaheed also poses some important questions such as: Which voice should acquire legitimacy as the voice of ‘the people’, when multiple cultures compete to be heard within a society? Is the concept and desire for women’s self-determination merely a western construct?