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How Women Are Mistreated in Pakistan

By :Hizbullah Rashdi

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“It has been found that up to 70 % of women in the rural areas of Sindh suffer from some sort of abuse from their husbands.” (The Economic Times) It has also been proven that up to 5,000 women are killed-annually by their husbands in the entire country.

As a witness myself, I have heard and seen most of these incidents happen right in front of me; whether it is within my family or from my community or village. The glaring issue of women being oppressed was consuming me; the research assignment gave me the opportunity to delve deeper and think about this problem, which has been making women’s lives miserable. During my research I started to brainstorm and think about practical solutions that would bring about some change in the women’s lives.

My first step was to interview a professional guidance counselor who could give me some insight and with whom I could discuss and spell out my thoughts. She informed me that, “The cultural aspects that are followed to this day are influenced by the previous cultures. In most villages, the traditional and cultural aspects may have changed over time, in most of the town and villages; however, in Sindh it seems like there is stagnancy. It is sad that over time the mentality of the people and the cultural and traditional aspects haven’t changed at all. The people of Sindh are still living in the 15thcentury; they are stuck in a time zone where women weren’t allowed to vote or speak out to the public. We are generations behind.

The people are uneducated and don’t know Islam very well, which is another problem in our society. They misunderstand and misinterpret the major principles of Islam that talk about women and modify that in their own way. Women are allowed to work, go out, and be partners to their husbands.Men and women are meant to be “each other’s garments” (Quran)

Therefore it is imperative that both men and women have to educated and must also make conscious and intense effort to learn what has been decreed in the Quran

 

Another common problem in most villages is that the daughters are married off at a very young and most of the time without consent. This is against the principles of Islam. It is really sad that in most cases girls are considered a burden and the parents want to get rid of them. They believe that they should get married as early as possible as they are insecure and ashamed to have a female child. This is very common in not just Sindh but in Pakistan and getting them married at an early age has nothing to do with Islam, but this is mostly a ‘cultural issue.’” (Mrs. Alizeh Malick Imam)

In the second part I interviewed four people who migrated from their respective villages and penned down their diverse opinions. Two women in my household admitted that they have been abused by their respective husband countless number of times. This trauma has impacted their lives so deeply that their mindset has changed. One of them divorced her husband a long time ago and agreed that it was one of the best decisions of her life. She wasn’t allowed to work and was abused by her husband almost every single day. She described it as ‘torture’. I then interviewed two men who had completely different perspectives. One of them said that even though his wife and him only had a few fights, there were many regulations that were mandatory for his wife to follow. He never allowed her to leave her house. It is obvious enough to tell that almost every ‘villager’ had similar claims about how they treated their wives. He further emphasized that men and women are assigned different set of rules and they can never be equal to each other. His bizarre perspective seemed quite rational to him.“As a Muslim I understand that men will always be superior to women and this has been ordained so it is out of his control. This just how it is. I have accepted what’s going to face me in the future. As a married man I have played my role well and I have done absolutely nothing wrong.” (Shahid)

 

I wanted to speak to an Islamic scholar to get a lucid picture of how people confuse their culture to be equivalent to Islam. I interviewed a well-educated Islamic scholar and according to him, “In the ‘Shariah’ there are different regulations for both men and women. For example, women need to be modest and are not allowed to mingle with the opposite sex without being covered; this is called pardah. They are allowed to be with men but they have to maintain their modesty and have be covered. This law is to protect the women not abuse them. Married men and women and have to abide by the principles of Islam and they have obligations over each other. Men are superior to women due to their physique and that’s why they are called the their protectors. In Chapter five of the Holy Quran, it has been stated that, “Allah the Almighty has guided men to be the breadwinners and the women to play the dominant role in the home affairs. The women have to be modest and cover their beauty.”

The women in Islam went to wars with the Prophet and were actively engaged even on battlefields. Hazrat Bibi Khadija was a successful businesswoman who proposed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH and they got married. She continued her business even after marriage. Yes, she had to abide by the dress code and be modest. That was the case for all Muslim women and that is ordained for all Muslim women till doomsday. It has been stated in the Shariah that both men and women are allowed to marry after puberty. Men and women can study together but it is mandatory for women to be modest and cover herself because the shariah has mandated for the women to abide the ‘parda’.

In conclusion, it is wrong for men to hit women and if the woman disobeys her husband and exhibits vulgarity, she has to be reprimanded but there are ways of reprimanding that Allah has ordained in the Quran. Men are caretakers of women, but it is also important that the wives guard the property and honor of their husbands.

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