Monday, October 13, 2014
By Shad Begum
You are apologetic, defenceless and a weak creature. You are not supposed to condemn, criticize or argue. Obedience is the hallmark of your ideal character. You have no separate identity. You are known to others by the identity of your men – your father, brothers, or husband. You want to please all of them and struggle to meet their expectations.
Whether in the name of a self-defined religion or culture, you are supposed to liquidate your rights. Islam enjoins equal opportunities for men and women but we practice it partially in favour of men. Whether education, property or employment rights, your preferences are defined by others.
If you are assertive, argumentative and outspoken, then you are a threat to the male-defined cultural norms. Your mobility is an issue. You cannot visit a doctor or a market place for genuine needs without your men, even if you have no men left in your household, and even when you are the sole bread-earner for your children. You are a threat to the male-defined values of honour.
You are not allowed to work outside home. Occasionally, you may work but the choice of your career is pre-defined. You are harassed, stigmatized and discouraged in work places. You have nothing to do with public life. Men can decide for you better. You must trust even if it seems unjust.
You deserve sympathy when you feel hurt by others. You don’t need understanding by others.
You can’t enforce your constitutional and legal rights. You can’t visit a court to seek justice because justice is a male-business.
Your heart is filled with pain and anguish but you can’t speak. You are not supposed to complain.
You are precious because you can produce children. The level of your respect is determined by the sex of the children that you produce.
The dignity of your person is subordinate to that of your men.
You are a woman born and raised in a society of macho men – a society that romanticize physical aggression and male-dominancy. You are left alone to take your sufferings to the Creator of the Universe. Your prayers will be answered – for sure.
 Shad Begum is a human rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and a recipient of international women of courage awards.