Saturday, 28 February 2015

To be a woman in Pakistan

Re-sharing a comment I made on a closed group discussing gender in Pakistan:
Pakistan is one of the worst places to be a woman. Pakistan is first and foremost a patriarchal, deeply conservative society where the average Pakistani woman has to be covered up and plays a subservient, traditional role. This has to be firstly recognised. Even within the rural/urban divide, there is very little difference, I think.
Pakistani women are subject to domestic violence, rape, gang/honourrapes/killings, acid attacks, etc. On top of it, we have these wonderful Hudood Ordinances where a woman's testimony in court is, what, 1/4th of a man? A woman has to prove she was raped?
Last year a pregnant woman was stoned to death because she ran away from home by her family in front of a crowd, in front a court, police, etc.
Minority and "low-caste" women are favourite targets: apparently, at least 1,000 Hindu women/girls are forcibly converted/kidnapped every year. A Christian couple was beaten, dragged, tortured and thrown into a brick kiln where they worked.
Pakistani women are subject of violence because of the hyper religious state and society they are unfortunately part of. Some of the barbarity is enshrined within the modern state and some of it encoded in ancient traditions. Minority women are even worse.
In terms of a class analysis, I think "upper class" women play a huge role in keeping the status quo. They need poorer women to come and clean their kitchens, toilets and take care of their babies while they attend charity lunches. They will also cover up abuse of domestic servants.
Our state, its apparatus, and laws need to be reformed to bring it into the 21st century so that it can protect women and provide them with equal access to education, economic opportunities, and personal freedoms. Social norms will hopefully be overhauled organically too once our state modernises itself.
I also suggest the complete banning of ads of whiteness creams from TV, billboards, and radio.

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