No Country For Women

Mukhtaran MaiWhen Prophet Muhammad (SAW) delivered the gift of Islam, he brought a revolution in women’s rights. Women were to be respected in Islam. Women were to have rights. This was not only to be found in the teachings of Qur’an, but in the lessons of the Sunnah also. Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) first wife Khadija was a successful and influential business woman of her own making. She was also a close confidant of the Prophet who did not keep her locked away. The first Muslims included women who engaged in community affairs. They spoke out. They had a voice. In one famous incident, Hazrat Umar (RA) was announcing a change to the rule of mahr when a woman in the crowd loudly quoted an Ayat that contradicted his proposal. Hazrat Umar (RA) is said to have smiled and said, “The women of Medina know Qur’an better than Umar!” As Khalifa he even appointed a woman to oversee the market of Medina. History is filled with such incidents, supporting the words of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), “Allah enjoins you to treat women well” and “the rights of women are sacred”. Are we living up to the example of the Prophet today?

In the 2010 film, ‘Bhutto’, we were reminded that when Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister in 1997, the Army resented having to salute a woman. Fourteen years later, Hina Rabbani Khar was appointed Foreign Minister, she was dismissed as less than serious as pundits preferred to focus on her wardrobe instead of her portfolio. The latest target of the ‘old boys club’ is the new Defence Secretary, Nargis Sethi. Is it just coincidence, or are men so scared of powerful women that they have to try to discredit them from the start?

But while powerful women might be dismissed and disrespected, it is the powerless who suffer the most. A new report of Aurat Foundation released yesterday found violence against women on the rise.

As many as 3,153 incidents of violence against women were reported in the Punjab during July 2011 and December 2011.

It states that incidents of kidnappings were the most reported crime (860), with Sargodha on the top of the list with 90 reported abductions. As many as 19 women were subjected to various forms of violence on daily basis with five being kidnapped everyday.

The statistics represent a two per cent rise in violent crime against women compared to the first six months of 2011. It also indicated that the incidence of violence in the rural areas was greater than in the urban areas.

More than 170 women were killed in the name of ‘honour’ from July to December, most of them under 25 years old.

In most of the almost 500 rape and attempted-rape cases that alleged offenders were related to the victims in one way or the other. The rape cases were reported from Lahore, Kasur, Sialkot, Pakpattan and Multan districts.

The highest number of incidents of violence was reported from Lahore (248), followed by Rawalpindi (239).

And let us not forget the case of Mukhtar Mai, the woman who was brutally gang raped on the order of a panchayat – the same system of ‘justice’ that Imran Khan promises to expand in Pakistan. She not only suffered the pain of the attack only to suffer the further injustice of seeing her attackers set free by the court, and then the added humiliation of a disgusting media attack.

Sadly, Mukhtar Mai’s case was not an isolated incident. Just this week, Peshawar High Court directed PC KP to take departmental action against a group of 29 officers involved in the kidnapping and rape of Uzma Ayub.

This is not to say that there is no hope. Last month Omar Derawal termed 2011 as ‘Year of the Woman’ due to the number of important laws that the government passed guaranteeing the rights and security of women. But laws are only as strong as the society that possesses them. Laws are important, but not as important as our own attitudes and behaviours. It is here that we are failing. Simply put, we are failing to live up to the commandments of Allah and the example of the Prophet (SAW).

4 thoughts on “No Country For Women

  1. Assalam-u-Alaikum

    I will not recommend such generalization which the title suggests. Pakistan is still the only Muslim country with most women in Assembly, country which elected First Woman Prime Minister and she was not an unpopular figure of some establishment. Looking at the scenes of when she came back to Pakistan both in 80s and in 2007 will confirm that she was a lovable ans liked woman. Who in Pakistan does not love Naseem Hameed and Arfa Karim. I do as well and I have studied 7 years in Madarsa.

    Below, I try to explain the rights of women in Islam very briefly.

    As per Islam, Muslim women like men must educate themselves. They can own property and wealth. They have the right to choose their husbands and the right to separate from their husbands.

    They are entitled to have ‘Mehr’ (wealth at the start of marriage), ‘wirasat’ (share in inheritance upon the death of husband, children and father etc). Islam does not make it obligatory on women to earn for their family. However, they can earn for the family and yet they are not obliged to spend their earnings on the family. They have a right to choose an occupation and earn their livelihood.

    However, men are obliged to spend their earnings on the family and they are made primarily responsible for earning the livelihood for their children and wives.

    As per the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), a mother must be respected three times more than the father by the children. A husband is not a man in isolation; he is also a son of his mother and must obey and respect his mother.

    No man is allowed to have extra-marital relationships with other women. Adultery is a severe crime in Islam. People who have indulged in adultery cease to have a right to marry a chaste partner in a Muslim society. Rapists are recommended for capital punishment in Islam.

    Regarding ‘women empowerment’, it must be realized that the ‘institution of family’ is highly recognized and cherished in Islam. A woman has a central role in that institution. As per Islam, ‘all power rests with Allah’. Mental and physical capabilities that are given to us are the blessings of Allah and we hold it as a trust.

    Therefore, based on the differences in these mental and physical capabilities, no one is superior in the eyes of Allah.

    Wassalam

    Salman Ahmed Shaikh

  2. AOA, I really can’t understand that why Always all the NGO’s and Media try to create an impression of “Mazloom” for women. All the Western influenced corrupt NGO’s whom job is just to spread chaos in society run after any incident that happen to some women in any area. But no one shows the positive side of our society, now women are more in jobs then men, mainly dominating all the sects of society, they have every right to live inside and outside their homes but WHAT WOMEN WANTS IN PAKISTAN? why do all the women want to undress or become naked like west to promote more violence, rapes and crimes. Is it women right. Why can’t you people digest the dignity your husband, father, brother and relatives give you inside and outside home and want to be cheap. WHAT FREEDAM? NGO’s you should be ashamed of what you have done in the name of women issue since 1947. You always run after one rape case and dont ever promote 99 protected and happy family women in Pakistan. WHY ALL THIS EVIL. yar bas kro apna zameer bachna. or kitna khao gay is pious society or country ko. For God’s sake kaheen to ruko. Or kitna giro hay. DO PUBLISH THIS COMMENT. shayad tum main say kissi ko sharam a jaye.

  3. @Anwar Can you honestly tell me that women are not ‘mazloom’in our society? After the Hudood Ordinaces is there any room for doubts?

    You are wrong when you say women are more employed when it comes to jobs. According to Council for Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org/asia/gender-disparities-economic-growth-islamization-pakistan/p7217), Pakistan’s has a persistent and growing problem of gender disparities. That means women are increasingly not given their rights and their is a glass ceiling that prevents them from getting an equal social status in the daily facets of life.

    The report also mentions that obverall literacy rate for women is less than 30 percent whereas for males its more than 44 percent. Issay aap ko kya iss baat ka andaza ahi hota ke khawateen parhai kay maidaan mei peechay reh gayeen hain society ki waja say? Report ye bhui batatee hai ke “The bigger the gender gap in primary education, the higher the return of investing in girls’ literacy”. Issay ye baat saf zahir ho jatee hai ke auraton ko taaleem na deinay ki waja say hum economy kay maidaan mei peehcay reh gaye hain.

    Coming to how women want to dress (whether its the west or east or north or south) is upto them wo jaisay chaian kapray pehnain. Kissi bhi insan par chahcya wo aurat ho ya mard ho us par zabardastee mazhab ko enforce karna gahir islami hai.

    As far as NGO’s are concerned, the one thing that they have been doing is promoting womens rights and rightly too. Kya apako andaza hai ke Zia-ul-Haq kay hudood ordinances nay humari mulk ki reputation kay saath sath auraton kay halat ko kiss hadh tak girra diya hai? Several crimes are committed and then remain unreported because of these draconian laws.

    Meira iss website say koi leina deina anhi leikin apkay ye comment dekh kar mujhay apnay ap ko Pakistani aur aapka hum watan kehnay par sharam arahee hai.Jiss banday ko auraton kay haqooq kay liye larnay wali organizations ki respect na ho aur jo ye kehta ho ke 99 percent auraton ko unka haq mil jata hai, meiray khyal mei ussay zyada andha insan iss waqt pakistan mei nahi rehta hoga.

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