On May 2, 2016, Khadija Siddiqui, a law student and resident of Lahore, was stabbed 23 times by her class fellow and friend Shah Hussain, after she spurned his unwelcome advances. The incident took place on Davis Road in broad daylight but no one dared intercede because of the intensity with which the whole gut-wrenching incident took place. Ms. Khadija survived this ordeal and remerged in good health, but with a hardened resolve to see the matter through in the Lahore High Court (LHC). This was a daunting endeavour, especially for a Pakistani woman. The usual cat and mouse chase began at LHC, during which the accused deemed himself above the law, while his victim remained persistent. The father of the accused, who is an influential lawyer himself, resorted to threatening Ms. Khadija and her legal counsel of dire consequences if she continued to pursue her case. Ms Khadija however, did not back down. On July 29, 2017, Shah Hussain was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on the charges of attempted murder by a Judicial Magistrate in Lahore. An appellate court, however, reduced the sentence to only five years instead. Even then Ms. Khadija enjoyed a fleeting moment of relief, as she believed that justice had finally been served and a precedent had been set for all similar crimes. But then things took a turn for the worst. Khadija took her case to the court despite immense pressure of ‘consequences’ from her attacker’s side. In releasing the culprit, the justice system has demonstrated that it is entirely diseased, while the suo motu acts as an ‘anti-biotic’ to offer temporary relief Shah Hussain filed an appeal in the LHC following the verdict. The presiding judge, Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem upheld his appeal, and to the shock of the nation, acquitted Hussain of all charges on June 4, 2018. Had their roles been reversed, I believe an example would have been made out of Ms. Khadija, instead she had to watch on in horror as her attacker was set free. It is evident from our country’s current standpoint that no single institution can be held responsible for the continuously deterring socio-political conditions in Pakistan. The courts have especially been overburdened with cases, many of which are left pending for decades on end, with no end in sight. Moreover, they have also been subjected to politicisation, which has resulted in innumerable innocents languishing in jails while the actual criminals walk free. Factors such as nepotism, misogyny, power politics and subjugating the rights of others, have become a norm in our society and have been embedded in our professional, as well as individual lives. Khadija Siddiqui’s case is a perfect example of the inequalities and injustices prevalent in our community today. It is a well-known fact that Pakistan has a patriarchal society, despite women making up half the population. The male-centric culture of our country forces women to play limited roles in life, while respecting their male counterparts no matter how they are treated by the men themselves. These incidents, and the countless more that remain unreported, shine a light on the reality of our society. Events of such nature keep occurring time and time again, but we fail to stop the spread of ideologies that lead people to act in such horrible ways. Our reluctance to face this issue head on confirms the fact that, we as a society, are rotting from the inside Pakistani has a deeply religious society. Islam being the dominant religion, asks Muslims to lead their lives peacefully and give every right to women as well. But the contrast between Pakistan’s social values and religious teaching becomes more evident when both of them come face to face under tough circumstances. When an average Pakistani, especially from the lower strata of society, hears about the verdict in the Khadija Siddiqui case, he might be inclined to side with Shah Hussain. The common man, who grows up in our patriarchal culture, due to a flawed educational system, will have some preconceived notions about the roles of men and women. When confronted with the fact that the victim and her abuser were friends, they will automatically assume the victim is at fault and she got exactly what she deserved. This mindset is not rare in our society. The remnants of such a mentality can be found in several other cases throughout our history. These include the murder of Qandeel Baloch and Sana Cheema in the name of honour, and the cold-blooded murder of local singer Samina Sindhu who was eight months pregnant when she refused to dance and was shot for her ‘defiance’. These incidents, and the countless more that remain unreported, shine a light on the reality of our society. Events of such nature keep occurring time and again, but we fail to stop the spread of ideologies that lead people to act is such horrible ways. Our reluctance to face this issue head on confirms the fact that, we as a society, are rotting from the inside. A society which cannot grant an equal status to its women and degrades the value of the female gender cannot make any progress in the future. We are a part of a distinctive society, which is being held together by the threads of infinitesimal similarities. We also have a large youth population, which means that the majority of our nation can still be taught to respect women and treat them as equals. Verdicts like the one in Khadija’s case do nothing but reinforce Pakistan’s image as a country that is hostile to women, even though the CJP has already taken suo motu notice of this case. Let’s hope that in the future, we don’t need the intervention of the Supreme Court every time such cases come to light. The writer is studying public administration at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST). He can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, June 21st 2018.