INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – No, I’m not convinced
I see the walks being held, the ceremonies being organised and the countless Facebook updates honouring the International Women’s day. But somehow, in spite of all this optimism, in the deepest corner of my Pakistani mind, I’m simply not convinced. I was appalled, as I believe were all of you, on reading about the woman who was not only beaten and stripped but also denied justice, in a village in Hazara, making this the second reported incident of its kind in about a year. However, as shocking as these incidents are, they’re nothing compared to those acts of inhumanity that women bestow on each other. You see, in a basically unequal society like Pakistan, the inequality isn’t just between men and women, but also between powerful women and weak women. So, although we raise a hue and cry about women being equal to men in all respects, perhaps we should first take a look at the horrendous way in which women treat their own gender. Women like Waheeda Shah who go around slapping other women, much below them on the power and social ladder. And while we’re at it, we should also take a peek at the mistress continually beating and torturing her 8 year old maid in Karachi.
When we, as women, treat those of our own gender with such abuse, how on Earth can we expect men to do any differently? That’s why it becomes all the more important that we speak out against the likes Of Waheeda Shah, that we declare the employment of minor maids as slavery and that we openly denounce any woman found to be guilty of abusing others. Once we accord the status of equality to all our sisters, irrespective of class, creed or religion, we can then look towards getting the same status from the male members of society. But until then, I’m just not convinced.
Yes, there is a change for the better. However, it’s simply not enough.
Yes, Syeda Waheeda has had the infamous slap thrown right back at her feudal face by getting a two-year ban from elections, but unless and until she’s tried and sentenced for assault, I’m not going to be convinced.
Yes, the woman daily abusing her maid in Karachi was arrested, but unless the employment of children as housemaids is outlawed, I’m not going to be convinced.
Should we settle for what’s being thrown our way in the name of justice and equality? We, as Pakistani women, must keep on our toes and refuse to be appeased by a mere act or two of goodwill and kindness. As human beings, we deserve all the ‘rights’ guised as ‘favours’ that are so generously bestowed on us at times, and so rightfully withheld at others.
There will come a day when being a woman will not mean being a doormat to be squashed, or an accessory to be displayed, or a property to be owned, but a human being to be loved, cherished and respected. A day when women will treat each other with respect at the workplace, kindness and empathy on the streets and love and care within families and in-laws. And until that day comes, I’m not going to be convinced.