28 April 2013
Feminism is a movement to ensure equal rights for women in society. With the passage of time the connotation of feminism radically changed due to widespread of this movement into different school of thoughts, societies, religions and regions. Now-a-days, burning debates are going on about the controversial topic of feminism across the globe and Pakistan is among those countries which are influence by feminist ideology. Many women and men in Pakistan show strong zeal and enthusiasm towards the idea of feminism but at the same time many people oppose the concept of feminism with strong disagreement. Now a question is arise that why feminism should be there in Pakistan and why not?
Anti feminists in Pakistan are claiming that a woman who is asking for feminism in Pakistan, “she is begging for rape” (Alam). It seems very harsh and irrational but they have quite motivational counters for their claim. If we talk about feminism in context of Pakistan each woman is consider as Khala ji means maternal anti and she has right to slap any boy if she caught him smoking or eating pan (kind of drugs) and every girl is consider as Baji means sister. Women have especial place in public transport, public places, hospitals, in home and even in shopping malls. Every where women are given more importance than men like if any man unconsciously look at woman he is consider as wicked person and if woman may tease by any man whole society is there to beat him to death. But feminist do not want respect from society. They consider the respect of men as their weakness. They don’t want to be sister or anti of any man (Alam).
The second claim of anti feminists in Pakistan is that “if feminism stands for the rights of women, then we need another ism to safeguard the rights of weak, meek and geek men, yet another for persons of indeterminate sex … and who do they fight against? This feminist is just impacts of westernization in our country” (Alam). Further, anti feminists are explaining that there should be human rights not only man or woman right to make equalitarian society and this concept of feminism itself creating discrimination in society. Feminism encourages woman to be anti-man, against marriage, and lesbian and these all activities are against our religion and our cultural norms. In addition to this anti-feminists in Pakistan are claiming that, “Pakistan’s feminists are “so-called” and that they give feminism everywhere a “bad name”. This feminist group in Pakistan has not done any awe-inspiriting thing like early feminists who ensure vote for women, who play vital role in demolishing of slavery. Feminists in Pakistan are just flying their own kite to opposing culture and religion (Meher).
On the other hand, feminists are claiming that, “she begging to be raped.’ That’s the response that many feminists in Pakistan get from Pakistani men seeking to shut them up” (Tafandar). The feminists group is arguing that if you are even threading women, that is also kind of harassment and against women’s right because they are suppressing females. In addition to this there are thousands of women who are suffering from patriarchal society. Many women are not allow in taking decision by their own even they have no right to select their life partner, every year plethora of women are leaving their schooling because of their sex. Women in every stage of their lives are guided by men like daughters and sisters are under control of their fathers and brothers, wives are under control of their husbands, and even mothers are under control of their own sons; which is very disappointing and absurd things in male dominant societies like Pakistan.
Further, feminists are arguing that humanism is very important and feminism is also humanism but it is not westernization, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. This radical notion is NOT the brainchild of the west; it is the brainchild of Islam.” (Akhter). As prophet Muhammad was himself feminist, he opposed female feticide, he encourage women to take part in business, politics and in religious activities. So feminists are not anti-religion rather they are real follower of religion in their practical life and they are claiming that, “Who throw the word ‘feminism’ in a woman’s face to the affect of labeling her a kaafir (non Muslim), are ignorant, simply ignorant” (Akhter). It is not west who gave us feminism but it is weakness of our own society which is not able to fulfill women’s right and this weakness gave birth to feminism in our society (Akhter).
Moreover, feminists in Pakistan are highlighting their achievements in Pakistan and claiming that, “Pakistan’s feminists have united on many fronts and worked hard to enact legislation that is pro-women” (Tafandar) and further they are mention their higher achievements: “The Honor Killing Bill, The Sexual Harassment Bill, The Domestic Violence Bill, The Acid Attack Bill, the seminal group WAF (Women’s Action Forum) has been instrumental in women’s advocacy, and so has WAR (Women Against Rape) for the last 40 years” (Tafandar). Feminists in Pakistan have done all these things which are as important as Civil Rights Movement or Right for Vote in history. Pakistani young feminist “Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is an Emmy and Oscar award-winning for her documentary, Saving Face in 2012” (The Express Tribune). Her documentary is about females who are attacked by acid and she helped many women’s in their face surgery. And Pakistani school pupil Malala Yousafzai: education activist and a feminist is the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in history who fought against Taliban for female’s education in Pakistan (Brenner). These people are as important as early feminists like Virginia Wolf and Wollstonecraft. People who are against feminism have just false argument that Pakistani feminism is so called feminism. From here it is obvious that feminists setup all these movements to make women more autonomous and these movements are advantageous for every woman regardless of class, race or creed.
In addition to this, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is more influence by religion because its foundation and ideology is base on the principles of Islam. Though most of people in today’s world consider Islam as a conservative religion which is quite true but it doesn’t mean that Islam is against of human rights or female’s right but in reality Islam encourages humanity. But few orthodox people are there in Pakistan who uses religion for their own benefits and make laws on the name of religion against women which causes stress and ignorance in society. Although Pakistani constitution and our religion have given equality to both men and women but our society is not equalitarian. As a Muslim and Pakistani feminist my perception about feminism is that neither wearing veil nor being topless is feminism but real concept and aim of feminism is freedom of choice. Everyone have right to do what they want to do and freedom of choice is not westernization but it is birth right of everyone as we are born as a free human being.
Finally, after having brief idea about feminism in Pakistan we can infer that supporters and oppositions of feminism have quiet valid points about the concept of feminism in contexts of Pakistan. As Pakistan is patriarchal society and men consider protection of women as their responsibility and in reward they take each and every decision of women’s life by their own which escalates problems and this is one of key reason to start feminist movements in Pakistan. Antifeminist in Pakistan are claiming that women who are asking for feminist in Pakistan are begging for rape, they do not want respect from male, there should be movements for human rights not only for women rights and Pakistani feminism is imitating west but it is doing nothing beneficial for society. On the other hand feminists are claiming that Pakistan being a patriarchal society woman has no right to take decisions of her own life which is fundamental right of human beings, feminism is also humanism, feminism movement is not westernization rather it is result of oppression which is there in male dominant society of Pakistan, and Pakistani feminists have also done lots of awe inspiring works for betterment of oppress women of Pakistan. Consequently, for male dominant societies feminism is very positive step to remove discrimination between men and women. So Pakistan is male dominated society it needs feminism to remove the stereotypical concepts and out dated norms of society because in patriarchal society women can’t get full power over their own life and they are not allow to take decision for themselves.
Akhter, Madihah. “Feminists…in Pakistan?” The Feminist Wire. 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 19
Alam, Musad. “To Be a Feminist … in Pakistan.” DAWN. DAWN.com, 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 19
Brenner, Marie. “The Target.” VANITY FAIR. Special Report, Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013
Meher, Nabiha. “Feminism in Pakistan: Just an Elitist Movement?” Web log post. I Am Woman,
Hear Me Roar. Feminist, Pakistan, 24 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013
“Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Launches New Documentary.” The Express Tribune: NEWS DESK.
Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <http://tribune.com.pk/story/526662/did-you-know-sharmeen-obaid-
Tafandar, Sultana. “The Reality Of Femiism In Pakistan-3 Three Thing To Know And Ponder.” Momina
Wonders. 14 May 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2013