“Baba, why can’t women in Saudi Arabia drive?”

He stares at me blankly like I had just asked him why lizards cannot fly.

“Because they’re afraid, women will be irresponsible.” He replies flatly and goes back to watching angry politicians pretend like they care about what is happening in Pakistan.

Who are ‘they’ and what is meant by the term irresponsible? Just like my father, everyone tends to brush female problems off like they aren’t even problems. No one wants to discuss these topics because they are deemed as unimportant and are barely a concern for our nation. But they are.

Men are scared of handing power over to women because we would ultimately stop depending on them for everything.  Men do not want women to be in control and definitely not behind the wheel since of course, everyone knows ‘women are bad drivers’. In Islam women and men do not have equal rights, but they are equally balanced and if a woman in her life requires having the ability to drive a car, she should have every right to. As quoted by Fatema Mernessi “If women's rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Koran nor the Prophet Muhammad, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite.” Rules such as the one stated above are cultural customs and Islam is a mere excuse to hand women authority.

These restrictions and regulations don’t just stop in Saudi Arabia, but turn into unjust treatment of females into our very own nation. Walking through the streets in Sadr ten years ago, you might have noticed a few things. Mainly the poverty and how it has settled into this country very comfortably and has affected the lives of not just the old but pre-teens that are just beginning to realize their misfortune. You may also notice the gender imbalance; women draped in a big cloth carefully making sure that the parts that should be covered are covered; mothers telling their daughters to put the dupatta over their heads and walk with maturity while their sons walk narcissistically with popped collars and rolled up sleeves. If you think things have dramatically changed since then, you’re mistaken.

These days, God forbid, a young girl doesn’t take a dupatta when she goes out because a flock of men will be eyeing her like she’s a walking piece of meat. Even if a woman is out in a burka, she will still be stared down and almost feel ashamed to be born one. Just the other day while my sister and I were out for coffee, a young man came to meet a young women sitting right across at the table from us. She exclaimed his name in an excited screechy voice and got up to give him a tight hug. Naturally my sister and I exchanged looks and just as we left the vicinity, we automatically started talking about how wrong it was that the girl had hugged him in front of the whole café and how she should have known better especially living in Pakistan. Never once did we talk about the boy and his fault. Shouldn’t he have known better too? Or is everyone just ready to pounce at every little mistake made by a woman and barely wave off the man’s.

The majority of the population do not care enough about this issue because it has always been like this in Pakistan and because ‘boys will be boys’ right?  Well it is time they grew up. It is also time for the literati to realize women are not the problem and not just reckon us as angry feminists but walk a mile in our shoes and see the problems that we face that men do not have to think twice about. Thus, having said all of that let us, as a nation not stop women from being women, but ask these boys to become men.