Women’s struggles in Pakistan face backlash from a multitude of actors. The religious right-wing has been the loudest voice within this backlash, closely followed by the state, conservative media and society at large. The lines of backlash can be fuzzy and make separating actors even more difficult - each actor’s discourse feeds into the other as the separation of religion and state remains elusive in Pakistan. The backlash includes death threats, fake blasphemy charges, violence, spreading vicious mass propaganda, bureaucratic challenges, and so on.

Patriarchy is deeply entrenched in the overall landscape in Pakistan and impacts women’s struggles across the board. Patriarchy manifests through multiple modalities, predominantly as a result of the desire to preserve a sanctified culture that is asserted to be a derivative of, and synonymous with, religion. Pakistan has also experienced, and continues to experience, rising levels of authoritarianism, militarism and state control. There is an increased crackdown on civil society organisations and progressive movements are faced with restrictions and vicious online propaganda. Moreover, the media also experiences ever-growing levels of censorship, which creates further silence and impinges on democratic rights. All these factors deeply affect women’s struggles and the backlash they experience.