Gendered social norms are difficult to overcome, due to a lack of consensus among legal, religious, and social institutions on the direction that will result in new social norms. In the case of Pakistan, which ranks sixth on the list of the most dangerous countries for women, it is not possible to change gendered social norms regarding domestic violence by only focusing on legal reform since, in its social context, the act of domestic violence is not in itself regarded as a serious offence. This article explores reform in Punjab, where deeply entrenched legal structural obstacles and discriminatory gender norms prevent women from accessing justice. The paper draws on a new framework for influencing changes in individuals’ behaviour to reduce the condoning of domestic violence. Using a mixed-methods approach the paper introduces a new initiative of women for institutional reform undertaken by the Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU) in Pakistan, to examine the role of social norms in normalizing the practice of domestic violence. This initiative provides an opportunity for examining how these prevalent social norms can be changed by both improving women’s access to legal processes regarding the registration and prosecution of crimes as well as addressing public shame associated with the wearing of a tracking device by the assailant. This model of institutional reform of the criminal justice system could provide the way forward to close the large gap between incidents of violence against women (VAW) and the low level of convictions in many societies. The paper concludes that such institutional reform could be adapted for use in other countries to comprehensively reduce VAW cases and to increase the success in prosecution and sentencing of perpetrators of such crimes.
Tanwir, Maryam; Fennell, Shailaja; Lak, Hafsah Rehman; and Sufi, Salman
Not Accepting Abuse as the Norm: Local Forms of Institutional Reform to Improve Reporting on Domestic Violence in Punjab.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 20(7), 129-153.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol20/iss7/9