Due to the inquisitive nature of humans, there are many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis — what is something called, where does something come from, what is the history behind a certain idea or concept? In Pakistan, one of the things the humanitarians in us question very frequently is how does someone come to develop a certain mindset — the mindset of cruelty, injustice and superiority over another race or gender? This is the same question we ponder upon a recent story appearing in this newspaper about a woman being declared kari after she shook hands with her maternal uncle in rural Sindh.
It is appalling that tribal elders — who for so long have been given authority over people without following any just process of law — ordered the woman’s husband to deal her harsh treatment after she shook hands with her uncle. The only heinous crime here is the abuse committed by the husband over the woman in the past five years. Furthermore, tribal elders should be banished for their dictatorial practices without any knowledge of state law.
The woman who has been facing trauma at the hands of these men would be better off without the animosity of her in-laws. However, who will take the responsibility of her safety and protection from the threats of her in-laws? Certainly, this type of story, once again, calls for the attention of the authorities and the human rights commissions to ensure that women are not treated as objects whose fates and futures are decided by men. We need to empower our women. Instead, we propagate ideologies of women being the lesser, weaker being — both physically and mentally. We have examples of women being made to stand in queues separate from men and being treated differently only to question, why it is necessary. The rural cultures of our country’s provinces are, indeed, backward. They severely impinge on women’s rights and it is time that the state took action to root out these antediluvian mindsets and ideologies.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2014.