The recent introduction of laws supporting the rights of women in Sindh like elsewhere in Pakistan, is a welcome development. However, laws operating against the backdrop of a crumbling judicial system coupled with poor access to justice is unlikely to bring about significant change.The women of Sindh, especially those in the rural areas are perpetually hung at the altar of woes, worries, torture and trauma. No sun rises without bearing news of either forced marriages, domestic violence, or murder in name of so-called “honour”.In this regard, some of these alarming news items appeared last week in a local daily. A dead body of a 20 years old girl kidnapped earlier was found in Jhudo town,… doctors pronounced that the possibility of rape could not be ruled out, “A woman staged a protest against some influential people in Baqrano area, Larkana,…” she said they regularly tortured her before her handicapped husband, “An attempt was made to kidnap a woman…”. “A female resident of Naro area staged a protest against her husband whom she accused of domestic violence”. “A woman approached a police station in Sukkur and demanded protection from her husband whom she accused of domestic violence…”No doubt, deep seated patriarchy in social, administrative and political organisations is the main cause behind the persecution of women in Sindh, much like elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately patriarchy cannot be demolished in one stroke; its development began as a process and a process is necessary to reverse it.It is no new fact that victims of patriarchal highhandedness can only utter resentment and occasionally resist before risking themselves to social exclusion and further violence. Being a villager myself, I have personally observed how women routinely experience misogynistic behaviour throughout the day. Most women remain silent and continue to suffer violent treatment. Others, bent on getting justice, are courageous enough to report to nearby police stations but rarely are their cases given priority or their persecutors punished.Rule of law and access to justice may not guarantee complete justice to women given the deeply rooted patriarchy in Sindh, but it can potentially prevent the occurrence of offenses against women and can instil hope and courage among the victimsThis is due to two main reasons, weak rule of law and poor access to justice in much of Sindh. In the pre-trial stage, police officers are bribed and succumb to political and social pressures to tamper with the cases. When approached by a female victim, police officers are reluctant to lodge the case as they claim that women’s issues should be addressed privately. On agreeing to file the case, police officers apply soft provisions of law on the report, thereby allowing the accused to escape charges.The trial stage also fails to bring complete justice to victims. According to an unpublished trend analysis report of district Jacobabad, over the last nine years from 2008 to 2016, 188 cases of honour killing were registered at the police stations in the district. However, not a single person has been sentenced or punished and most of them are set free. According to the same report, 22 cases of rapes were registered in the district from 2008 and 2014, and all the accused persons were released. According to same report, after the insertion of section 310A in the PPC through the Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Act 2011, in Jacobabad a total of 17 cases were reported under section 310A (punishment for giving women or girl in marriage or otherwise in badla-e-sulh, wani, swara). Most of the accused have been acquitted by the court.The above report focusing on the access to justice situation in Jacobabad district may not necessarily reflect the situation in all of rural Sindh. The report also may not necessarily reflects that judges are not gender sensitised, but it does reflects the status of weak prosecution caused by corruption, flawed investigation, misreporting and use of delay tactics by investigation officers and public prosecutors.In order to ensure access of justice to women, we need to eradicate corruption in all police and prosecution departments. More importantly, we need to strengthen the role of police and prosecution departments in the light of internationally recognised principles such as United Nations guidelines on role of prosecutors, and international human rights standards for law enforcement (agencies).Rule of law and access to justice may not guarantee complete justice to women given the deeply rooted patriarchy in Sindh, but it can potentially prevent the occurrences of offenses against women and can in still hope and courage among the victims. The writer has a master’s degree in human rights and democratization from the University of Sydney Published in Daily Times, August 23rd 2017.