“A woman is supposed to stay at home, cook food and look after her kids — there is no need for her to go out. Even if I were to lose a body part and I’m unable to make a living, I will not allow my wife to go out to earn money,” said a local bus conductor when asked why he sexually harasses women.
Such comments, among many others, were taken from common citizens and were screened as part of a documentary at Kuch Khaas to commemorate the 100th International Women’s Day on Saturday.
The documentary by filmmaker Samar Minallah, along with renowned women rights’ activist Kishwar Naheed’s moving poetry, presented challenges and brutalities faced by Pakistani women since independence.
Minallah, in his documentary, presented a first-person narrative of a 12-year-old girl who was severely burnt and disfigured when her neighbour threw acid on her face for refusing to be friends with him. She was appreciated by a round of applause from the audience for her courage and will to make a difference for all acid survivors.
The documentary also touched upon the issue of women’s trafficking in Pakistan. It said that the practice is considered “one of most profitable and easiest businesses in Pakistan.”
Poor and innocent girls are being fooled by their own relatives. They get them jobs as maids, where they get harassed and raped. These girls are told that they cannot go back to their homes and are later forced into prostitution.
Another painful story of a female student from Khushal School in Swat, and the psychological trauma on her family after her father died in a suicide attack, brought the audience to tears.
“Violence against women in Pakistan cannot end until and unless the mindsets of our men are changed,” said renowned Social Activist Mumtaz Begum. She sang a song on the occasion, “Darya ki Kasam, Maujon ki Kasam” (A promise by the sea and its waves), which she wrote back in 1986 on the brutalities faced by Pakistani women during Ziaul Haq’s regime.
Renowned Poet and Women’s Rights Activist Kishwar Naheed recited few of her famous poems, including “Mera watan Qaid hai” (My nation is Quaid), “Hum ghunaghar aurtein” (We sinful women). She said that feudalism is the root cause behind violence against women in Pakistan. However, there is a need to get united and fight against all such brutalities and challenges, she said.
Minallah said, “Everyone needs to play their individual role to end violence against women.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2011.