Women making headlines

Women in the workforce and community are struggling to define their rights.

Aatekah Mir-khan October 21, 2010

The fairer sex has been in the headlines the past week and like most cases, the men had something to be ‘proud’ of rather than the other way around.

On Sunday, just a day after the government observed the World Rural Women’s Day, an English daily reported that the DCO had said that women vendors will be banned from Sunday Bazaars. He failed to give a reason for his decision though. The ban, that he said would be imposed in phases, does not make any sense.

What good exactly is going to come out of ban? Is it because the men have complained that they get fewer make-shift stalls? Is it because the women have complained that they have been sexually harassed or have they said that they are forced to work? The decision, until it is explained, will only give rise to unanswered questions and conjecture.

I am waiting for the DCO to explain himself since I believe that the reason will be what I will classify as a stupid one. Women, as it is, struggle to be a part of the national work force. There are so few of them visible. It is not as if the markets are overflooded with women workers and we need to ‘cut down’. I was secretly celebrating spotting a growing number selling vegetables and fruits. It meant that they were realising that it was okay to get up and make an earning. But the celebrations were a bit premature, it seems now. I hope it was just a slip up and that the DCO will change his mind but that might be wishful thinking.

The second news worthy of a mention was about a man who married his two cousins (one from the father’s side and the other from his mother’s side) in the same week. The man obviously had no objections to having two wives. More shocking was that the conduct of the parents of the two girls who agreed marrying them to the same man. Why they thought they could not get a better man for their daughter(s) is not known. I pity the girls and their families.

It is sad that the girls agreed to such a preposterous arrangement. Why would you want to marry someone you know is going to take a second wife? As if that was not enough, the woman he had married first was part of his second barat.

It got worse. The media went berserk. There were pictures of the groom at a beauty parlour, his friends arranging the bedroom furniture and his father hugging him (double the dowry?). The worst part was the picture taken after the second wedding. It featured the groom sitting on the bed, with his two wives on either side.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was incredulously ridiculous and sad at the same time.

I can’t imagine what the future holds for the two women. Will they fight it out or live together as ‘sisters’ as intended? What about when they have children?

The saddest part is that apparently neither they nor their families realised what they were doing.

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Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2010.


Sher Ali Khan | 11 years ago | Reply This is a really good read. I think that this piece highlights to the major aspect of society in which we have failed to emancipate women which is education. For some reason or another, Pakistan has failed to modernize because of its inability to educate women who constitute 60 percent of the population. One could even argue that Pakistan has suffered economically due to the lack of women empowerment and education. This has naturally taken pakistan back centuries and will continue to do so...old punjab surveys by the british also suggested that Punjabis had rich history of education amongst men and women. We forget that even the old Mughal era ladies have left lasting marks on this society. Or if one cannot relate to that one can sight the quranic saying of Paradise beneath the mothers feet or just look at Prophet who married a business women who was more educated than the prophet himself. Anyways the point is that empowered women can provide a socio-economic boost that is necessary for this country....
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