Given the stifling patriarchal society we live in, there are a multitude of issues women face daily. I know and can say in advance that talking about issues related to women, specifically pertaining to equal wages and opportunities, discrimination, and most importantly sexual abuse and assault not only infuriates most of the population, rather such issues are cast by the wayside by not only men but repudiated by an overwhelming majority of women as well. The stigma of being adulterated and besmirched is way too much for us to swallow. Issues and matters related to child abuse, sexual abuse, rape and molestation are always overlooked as most people quaver at the thought of discussing and confronting such issues.
The sad truth is that such matters in our country are treated as taboo and are mostly brushed aside as people prefer to remain reticent. Such problems are not highlighted in public forums and discussions nor are they part of the curriculum in schools. What we need is to start a vigorous dialogue about matters which are latently simmering and will ultimately create catastrophic reverberations in terms of an inert society devoid of a basic moral fibre. Looking at the news, you see yourself bombarded with dreary incidents of prepubescent girls being abducted, raped and murdered and criminals absconding after committing heinous crimes and homicidal incidents so horrid that you prefer not watching the news at all.
As cliché as it may sound and as polarising the topic may be, we need to incessantly talk about such matters to change the ethos of a society which is on the brink of moral demise. We need to herald in the change ourselves. Since the government hardly takes affirmative and concrete steps to ensure minorities and women and children are protected from atrocities, the most rudimentary step is to start disseminating information and facts about such issues that raise awareness.
The world is changing, for even the most powerful who are now facing the throes of accountability. The best example is that of the media mogul and film magnate, Harvey Weinstein who has been indicted and arraigned on various counts of abuse and unwarranted advances on a bevy of influential Hollywood actresses. The bellicose rhetoric of Donald Trump and his apparent misogynistic tendencies only became mainstream news during the presidential race and when he ultimately became the president.
Considering how apparent these problems are in first world countries we can only imagine the abysmal situation here in Pakistan. These problems aside, women face a plethora of problems in terms of harassment, lack of encouragement, educational opportunities, working/employment opportunity in terms of permission, etc. While managing households women have to juggle multiple responsibilities here in Pakistan. Matters concerning women should be discussed just so that the population gains empathy, which we severely lack. Although the situation is improving, we’re still a long way to go.
What’s the solution? It is high time women need to take charge and matters into their own hands. It will be a long and cumbersome journey but a journey that needs to start immediately. In today’s day and age women do have means to start being independent. If they don’t know how to drive, they can use Uber or Careem. If they don’t know how to cook, home food vendors such as Greenhouse, Khanawana, Pakwaanghar are good options. If someone wants to have food but can’t drive or has conveyance issues, ordering from cheetay.pk is an option. Not only women but scores of people now shop online for greater convenience and practicality. We have online grocery and vegetable outlets such as cart99.pk, sabzi.pk and a host of other options. Reliance on others has certainly decreased but then again this is restricted to those who have access to smartphones are literate to a certain extent. The vast population of the country does not have access to smartphones, the internet or the mental faculties to use a computer.
Let us just stand with our women as equals and not relegate them as mere caricatures who are not taken seriously. For this we men need to support the women out there because without our support and men providing an impetus for change, it will take far longer than necessary. Let us remove the stigma of feminism because the first step to moving towards a solution is accepting the problem. For us to move forward we need to move on from labels and embrace humanity and tolerance.
Islamabad, February 7.