LHC opposes the sale of women as “things” and the continuation of trafficking

On Saturday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) lamented and criticized society’s contemporary attitude of women as “things” and saleable “commodities,” as well as their continuous trafficking despite laws prohibiting it.

LHC Justice Muhammad Shan Gul made the statements in a written judgment, which Dawn.com obtained, relative to a case involving the retrieval of a woman and her kid who was reportedly “sold” by the woman’s previous husband.

Sajida Mai’s former husband sold her to Anwar Khalid, according to the facts of the case as stated in the written judgment. According to the judgment, a station house official casually recognized the “selling” that the court considered “shocking and equally disgusting.”

The court also stated that the former husband had been given bail, which was not “understandable.”

“It is a glaring fact that the thought of a woman being considered a commodity or a product that can be sold has caused the court sorrow and must be addressed.”

“What needs to be addressed is the law enforcement agencies apathy and indifference in curbing and arresting the heinous crime of treating women as objects,” the judgment states.

It went on to say that, despite laws against human trafficking, deterrence had not been accomplished, and women continued to suffer and were subjected to trade by intimate family members.

“It is truly ironic that in a society where women are slaughtered for bringing so-called shame to their families, such dishonor is shamelessly inflicted on them by the very male family members by trafficking them for money or dispute resolution,” the court wrote.

According to Justice Gul, the country’s contemporary social and cultural milieu “heightens and intensifies the function of executive law enforcement institutions and saddles them with a proactive and anticipatory rather than a reactionary role” in combating violence against women.

He stated that the state of women, particularly in the country’s remote areas, was marked by harrowing cases that revealed a “society worse than the one that formed the basis for feminist movements in the 18th century,” adding that “we are a nation where the weak are exploited, and the exploiters are condemned on paper only.”

According to Justice Gul, Pakistan’s successive governments and the state have failed to ensure human dignity and the “basic right of its women to a free, autonomous, dignified life, let alone support them in becoming a viable section of society.”

This, he noted, even though Islam forbade the use of women as commodities over 1,400 years ago.

“Our claim to be a civilized society with pro-women laws and even Sharia decrees should have eliminated all such evils, and there should have remained no single custom or usage degrading/lowering women or depriving them of their guaranteed rights, but details noted above… paint a sorry and different picture and holding jirgas and passing illegal decrees trading women, trafficking in women… are still routine practices, particularly in far-flush areas.”

He stated that an investigation was required to guarantee that the appropriate laws were being applied to prevent such “inhuman behavior.”

The court ordered Rajanpur’s district police officer to release the jailed mother and daughter. However, it stated that the petitioner could return to the LHC if the court’s directions were not followed or were being resisted.

Furthermore, the court ordered that copies of the petition be sent to Punjab’s law secretary, inspector general of police, and prosecutor general “to guarantee that the legislature’s laws are adequately enforced.”