Sisters, wives, mothers and punching bags

Born to fathers who thought of them as a ‘bad investment’, married to men who think of them as incubators.

Vaqas August 10, 2011
Women belong in the house. They are too fragile to take on the challenges of a man’s world. They cry when they see a child in pain. Their maternal instincts drive them to take decisions that are often against their personal interest. They are ingrained with a spirit of self-sacrifice that drives them to give up on their dreams to achieve a better reality for their families.

When they go out to study in prestigious universities or offices, they are ‘harassed’ by innocent men whose only fault is their noble offer to give women an advantage at work in exchange for what they’re missing out on at home.

Women should stay away from such places if they want to avoid getting innocent men caught up in such problems.

So to reiterate, women belong in the House. And the Senate. And the Presidency.

It's strangely oxymoronic that in our society where men take such offence to references directed at one’s sister or mother, we see the same men objectify those same mothers and sisters in ways unimaginable.

Until recently, rape was always the fault of the woman. How dare she let herself get into a compromising situation with a man without having four witnesses of sound moral character?

I would really like to meet those four guys with such sound moral character that they stood for long enough to confirm the rape, yet didn’t try to stop it.

Sexual harassment is the fault of women. How dare they not cover their heads? Their free flowing hair and unclothed ankles and elbows send men into uncontrollable bouts of ecstasy.

They must veil themselves away in a mobile house if they want to venture out on their own. This is in spite of the fact that they are not even allowed to cover their faces when circling the Kaaba.

On a more serious note, recent changes in the laws of the land have made it easier for women who fall victim to the misogyny of our society to speak out and take those responsible to task. A decade or so ago, cases of sexual harassment in the workplace were unheard of in the legal arena. That is not to say that such cases never occurred: the internet and “American propaganda” had nothing to do with the rising reports of harassment. The 8,000 plus cases reported last year in an Aurat Foundation study were because women have an increased presence in the working world, and more importantly, access to education.

This is not to say that the job is done. One of the most underreported categories of crime in Pakistan is spousal abuse. The four walls of many women’s ‘homes’ are actually their dungeons. There is little prosecution in Pakistan for spousal abuse, abuse at the hands of in-laws, or even one’s own family. Even if you separate the ultra-violent cases such as acid burning and honour killing, there is a plethora of cases where women have been beaten into silence or subjugation. In rare cases where they finally shore up the courage to leave their abusers, they are rejected by those who were supposed to shelter them. Too many mouths to feed, as their fathers would say.

A National Committee for Maternal and Neonatal Health study in 2009 included evidence that illegal abortions in backroom clinics are on the rise: women don’t want to have kids. Why?

The study showed that less than one in 10 women admitted at Karachi teaching hospital in 1997-1998 with post-abortion complications acknowledged that their abortions had been induced. A partial answer to the trend was in another part of the study. In 2002, well over half of women having abortion said they underwent the procedure because they had too many kids, or they couldn’t afford more. 96% of them said they had tried and failed with ‘every’ method of contraception, yet on closer inspection, they were talking about ‘traditional’ methods, synonymous with ridiculous methods.

The sad thing is, many of these abortions wouldn’t have had to take place if there were better population planning and fewer hindrances to contraceptive education.

Unfortunately, except for the few clergymen who actually understand the science behind childbirth, and the link between poverty and family size, most believe that contraceptive use, let alone education, is ‘abhorred by God’, and ‘breeding’ more poverty-stricken Muslims is a ‘duty’.

Then there is the case of a woman who had an abortion because she didn’t want to have her abusive husband’s child.

Forced dependence perpetuated by society kept women from having the freedom to break free of their oppressors. Born to fathers who thought of them as a ‘bad investment’, married to a man who thought of her as an incubator and occasionally a punching bag, and mother to a son who is willing to treat her like garbage to get hold of ‘his’ inheritance.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Amina Hamza | 12 years ago | Reply I am touched that there are men out there who think like this about females. it takes courage to actually feel, and then to write about it. There are many stories that happen behind closed doors, and it such steps that will give courage for the delicate hands that rocked many a cradle to come forward.
AK | 12 years ago | Reply What i cannot understand is why sex is such a big taboo that whenever some school / college attempts to impart some sex education to its students, the parents threaten to get the institution closed? Why can't mothers of our society understand that their daughters need this education? Women of our society are their own biggest enemy. Not only when it comes to sex but also when it comes to getting their daughters married off to grossly old men or their daughters-in-law being beaten by their sons in their presence.
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