Zahrah Nasir The socio-economic changes which have been manifested throughout Asia over the past 40 years or so, have resulted in a state of affairs which European women's libbers may very well have dreamt of during the nascent days of that much eulogised movement back in the 1960's, when feminists, such as Germaine Greer, vociferously demanded that women be let out of the kitchen and allowed to join the workforce on equal terms with men. Whether or not women actually wanted to be part and parcel of the daily economic grind was, most conveniently, silently brushed under the nearest carpet: 'silently' as it was unfashionable for any woman to even think of bucking the trend, let alone standing up, in public, to say so and thus risk being at the receiving end of her 'sisters in arms' possibly violent wrath. It is only now, so many years down the line, that a certain segment of the female population dare voice an opinion on the matter and this, coming at a time when women, in all fairness, have finally accepted that women's liberation per se, is a state of affairs they would be much happier to live without. Yes. European women are free to live as they please: They can, quite confidently, apply for plum jobs in what were once male only preserves and may even, if they are lucky, receive equal pay and perks. They can power-dress to their heart's content, juggle smart phones, briefcases and Jimmy Chou's if this is their want. Buy or lease their very own sport's car, luxury limo or racing bicycle if that's what they prefer plus, and here is the crunch, they also get to pay their own bills, open their own doors, change flat tires, fix the plumbing, mow their own lawns and generally fight their own battles. They also have other chores to attend to however: 'Bachelor-ette' homes still need cleaning, clothes still need washing and ironing, food has to be cooked, windows polished along with stiletto heels and woe the married working woman with a family to fit in between board meetings or spells on a supermarket checkout. Women, it seems, have slotted in to the European workforce very nicely indeed thank you very much and are much worse off for it. In Asia though, educated women have never really felt it necessary to heft the liberation cudgel as they have always been actively encouraged to work and, the teeming millions of uneducated females here have rarely had any option but to work their fingers to the bone day in, day out, 24/7, 365 days a year and, according to recent documentation, female members of the urban poor have unwittingly managed to emasculate their men folk in the process As the industrial economy plummeted over the last few years, so too did employment opportunities for a largely unskilled, often originally migrant, male workforce. This, combined with ever-spiralling inflation, has resulted in ever decreasing job opportunities, further exacerbated by the fact that the middle income class can no longer afford to hang on to full time, male household retainers indefinitely...which is where the ladies make their valuable entrance. Poor 'housewives' with an unemployed husband plus a family to rear, cannot make ends meet for very long and, sometimes going behind their husbands backs, are driven to join the labour market as over exploited, low cost factory workers, as persecuted jamadarnies cleaning up to six houses a day, as maids of all work or whatever else comes their way. They take over as primary breadwinners while the man in their lives initially trudges from pillar to post returning home empty handed, becoming increasingly embittered in the process, ultimately taking out his frustration at home or chasing drug filled dreams at his wife's expense. The women, naturally, want a say in how their hard earned money is spent; after all they have ventured out of their basti, braved the chauvinistic world of staring men, of distressingly close encounters with bus drivers, chawkidars and other strange males they would much prefer not to encounter even in their wildest nightmares; but their emasculated husbands have an inbuilt need to attempt to resuscitate any dregs of male dominance they can salvage and the cycle can degenerate into an extremely vicious one indeed. Hard working women, desperate for the family unit to survive, for their children to have the benefit of education and access to healthcare, are routinely beaten to within an inch of their lives on pay day when their, in time, lazy good-for-nothing spouses, demand control of the 'loot'. Some women fight back; even consider committing cultural and social suicide by demanding divorce, others are divorced without knowing it and yet others find themselves totally abandoned, stranded in their basti to be preyed on by strange men posing as well intentioned 'friends'. Women who are thus 'forced' to enter the labour market would be highly unlikely to embrace the current crop of 'women's libbers' if they had the audacity to invite themselves for tea The writer is a freelance columnist based in Murree.