Women’s Perceptions of Domestic Violence in the Punjab, Pakistan

By Faiza Tayyab, PhD candidate, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. @fwaseem

The situation for women in Pakistan with regards to domestic violence is bleak, this in spite of the fact that laws are enacted to protect them in the domestic sphere. Women are socialised in such a way that many women justify domestic violence against them. My recent article (Tayyab et al., 2017) highlights this fact quite aptly as the findings show that more women justified wife beating as an acceptable act compared to men. We need to know why, but we need also to take into account the diversity of women’s experiences in Pakistan. Treating all Pakistani women as a single category is inadequate as there is significant diversity in the statuses of women across the country due to the intersections of regions, urban/rural division, class, age, and education. Moreover, there are other important categories that are based on ethnicity and religious identity of women. About 3.6% of the population of Pakistan consists of religious minorities, with Christians being one of the largest. Minority status also carries discrimination and victimisation due to certain discriminatory laws. Minority women are said to face double jeopardy both as women in a patriarchal society and as Christians in a majority Muslim country. The existing literature on domestic violence in Pakistan does not sufficiently consider the minority status of women and how this positions them in their domestic relations in the local context.

My research, therefore, investigates the issue of domestic violence from the standpoint of those Christian minority women at risk, alongside Muslim majority women. I will be speaking to Christian and Muslim women from urban and rural localities to examine their perceptions of domestic violence. I will also consider how gender intersects with other oppressions and social locations in constituting the realities of women with regards gender relations and in developing their perceptions of domestic violence.

If we want to see a change in future then understanding the perceptions of domestic violence from an intersectional perspective is crucial. If we investigate where the problem lies then we will be in a better place to do more than impose laws that are not grounded in the realities of women’s lives. This study will be able to suggest the need basis initiatives to overcome domestic violence instead of a single solution for all segments of women. This research will also provide the baseline for further research with minority women.


Tayyab, F., Kamal, N., Akbar, T. and Zakar, R. 2017. Men and women’s perceptions of justifications of wife beating: Evidence from Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012–13. Journal of Family Violence. 32(7), pp.721-730. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10896-017-9910-y