Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rights of Women in a Pakistani society

'Women's rights in Pakistan' is a big question often raised in the West. It is believed that women has no rights or privileges in the male dominated society of Pakistan.

Before discussing whether women have rights in Pakistani society or not, first understand Pakistani society.

Pakistan is an Islamic state, where people, not only take pride in strictly adhering to the Islamic values but are ready to sacrifice their loved belongings for the glory and sanctity of Islam. Islam has accorded a highly venerated social position to women. Islam acknowledges the rights and privileges of the women in society. Likewise, Islam does not impose any restrictions that may hamper the social growth and development of the woman. A woman is equally important member of society. The woman plays a vital role in building the society on healthier and stronger foundations.

The women in Pakistan have been constantly complaining of having being isolated from the mainstream of society. Women feel disillusioned on being maltreated by the male-oriented set up in Pakistan. They strongly claim that if they are given a chance, they can contribute more positively towards the development of all social aspects.

However the Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women. Their development in society is hindered due to many factors. Particularly the rural woman has to sustain, sometimes, unbearable dominance by the other sections of society.

Numerically the women in Pakistan are almost equal to men. They are equal in potential as the men. The Pakistani women live in the most diversified location of the tribal, feudal or urban environments. She can be a highly qualified and self-confident professional or a diffident peasant toiling along with her men-folk.

Women in Pakistan observe 'Pardha' while coming out of domestic environs or mixing up with other sections of society. 'Pardha,' or veil, is meant to segregate the women-folk from the male section of the society. The women are not prohibited from working but at the same time are supposed to observe strictly the rules of morality.

Due to pardha system, most of women (particularly of low education) have to take up work at home. They involve themselves in knitting, dressmaking, embroidery, etc.

In the areas like NWFP and Balochistan, life is governed and regulated by strict beliefs and behavioral patterns. A woman has no say in any aspect of her life, including her marriage. In the populated provinces of Sindh and Punjab, a woman may keep her connections with her family after marriage. She expect support from her brothers and father in case of separation and divorce from her husband. In Punjab and Sindh, women are seen working in the fields with their men-folk collecting fuels and in some cases working on the construction sites shifting material from one place to another.

Most of women in rural areas have to bear double burden of domestic and outside work. They are the first to rise and last to bed. They lit the fire to prepare breakfast, wash the utensils and cleans the house before setting out on their outside work. When every member has ridden the bed after completing day's work, they are engaged in working.

Although the conditions of women in urban areas are better than those of the rural women. Yet the old traditions and religious restraints have hindered the independent and free movement of the women.

Pakistan is the first country in the Muslim world that has elected a woman as its prime minister twice.
- Maham Masood


Muhammad Atif said...

A really well written article, but have read alot of those lately, so I checked boring.
Almost everyone has something to say on this topic, so the way i see it is that its the education and exposure of different cities and the culture which affects the freedom and rights of women in Pakistan.
I would like to disagree with you on the point where you said,

"Although the conditions of women in urban areas are better than those of the rural women. Yet the old traditions and religious restraints have hindered the independent and free movement of the women."

At least in big cities of Pakistan, the people are over these old traditions. Women, who are willing, are working side by side with men, whether its a volunteer work, or a job, getting education, or whether its working for a cause.
I`ll give you an example of my sister, for example, have worked for a NGO which is run by women employees, named YES. Moreover, she earns from freelancing as she is really good at graphics and web development. And if you browse on the freelancing sites, you`ll see a lot of women working from Pakistan.
Moreover, recently I attended a talk by Zaid Hamid, and he said that a lot of women works in any way for us on the web, which helps a lot.
There is a lack of responsibility and commitment to work by females (especially young girls) too which do not take the advantages of the opportunities that are available out there, especially who are living in Urban Areas

Moiz said...

Seems a well balanced discussion on ‘The Rights of Women in the Pakistani Society’ but the intensity of your arguments is debatable. On the whole, a well thought excerpt you have there Maham showing your solidarity with Pakistan. I hope that your effort has favourable repercussions.

Wishing you and your team all the best,

Mohammad Moiz Shaikh

Maham Masood said...

Thankyou all for showing an interest and repsonding to our topics here on our blog. Muhammad Atif,yes i agree with you on the point that many of our young girls do not take the advantages of the opportunities that are available out there, especially who are living in Urban Areas.However this is due to other factors.I'v heard alot of experiences of my friends who have interned in some banks in the urban areas. One of my girl friends left the internship due to the harassment she faced at workplace.The male in our society are still very narrow-minded and have a very negative attitude towards girls working in a workplace.
Our society needs maturity.
When we talk about education. We need to define what education is!
Our people living in Urban areas who have the basic education still have the same thinking like the uneducated.
Our society says only academic basics are important and that is based on collecting knowledge without understanding its value.
Getting 8A's in O-levels and 5A's in A-levels is not where education ends!
Its the developement in the way of thinking positively and grooming into an optimist.

Awais Malik said...

I would like to shine some light on your comments above. Now the issue where your friend left the internship at the bank due to harassment makes it wrong for you to judge the entire male society as being narrow minded as this could well be a value judgment. Therefore it is encouraged for women to work in environments that are better suited for them i.e. where male domination is less such as a gynecologist, teaching and etc. Thus proving that women are not just confined to knitting, dressmaking and embroidery. (As you mentioned earlier).

You may be correct in saying ‘Getting 8A's in O-levels and 5A's in A-levels is not where education ends! Its the development in the way of thinking positively and grooming into an optimist.’ But, in part, an individual with a high level of intellect would be the one on track of optimism and positivity.

To conclude, I am very impressed by your effort and hope you are successful in bringing a change for the betterment of our society.

Best Wishes,

Awais Malik.

SM89 said...

I have read many articles along these lines, this was very well written, but the fact is that it seems to generalise on males in the society as a whole. I agree there are people with low intellect who mistreat women, the only solution on this is to educate people at school level about the rights of women and the respect that is due to them.

Secondly the people of pakistan are locked into traditions which have nothing to do with Islam and are have been incorporated into our generations due to the large amount of time we have lived with hindus.

Again only through education can we remove these traditions which are contrary to Allah's religion and have a detrimental effect on Pakistani society.

Our negligence of Allah's laws and our preference of systems of kufr have resulted in these criminal acts especially against women becoming widespread in Pakistani society.

The only solution and I repeat the only solution is Islam according to Quran and the authentic Sunnah. People have to be taught what this religion says about the honourable way in which we treat our women. We cannot turn to women rights based on systems of Kufr as these systems do not have a divine origin and hence are bound to condemn our society to further harm.

May Allah guide us all.

Maham Masood said...

The Bank is one of many other places where this sort of behaviour is practiced.Sorry for the misunderstanding but when i talk about the male of our society i dont mean all of them.But, generally speaking the majority of our males are like this.
If our society opens up there are a number of stories about workplace harassment that many of our sisters face on a daily basis.
The point of this blog is to help our people to open up and create awareness,of what happens in our society as many are unaware of it.

You say that Women should work in a less male dominated workplace.Why not change the thinking of our people?
As an economy progresses to development it has to go throught ideological transformation.Why not bring an ideological transformation? instead of limiting the workplaces for Women in our society?

Zohaib said...

Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your substantial effort in making us aware of the rights of women in the Pakistani society. Your article was very well structured and I was impressed with your enthusiasm. I would not be less true if I say that women have not contributed in the economic growth equally. We have women working in hospitals, government organizations, multinational companies and even the parliament and there is no doubt that Pakistani women have made us proud. On the one hand, women might have to face sexism and discrimination i.e. women workers might not be considered efficient and may face sexual harassment by their managers. However, this not only happens in Pakistan but all over the world. It’s just that we tend to exaggerate this in our country and this stereotype image of working women in Pakistan has not changed. Unfortunately, women might find it difficult to work in Pakistan compared to working in other countries but that has more to do with family pressure than the environment at their workplace. Although I would not like to contradict your point of view, I must put in the picture that working women in Pakistan enjoy favouritism i.e. the male staff members tend to give their females colleges less work. Therefore, our beautiful culture is not that bad after all! I come from a family of doctors and the female members of my family also practice medicine and they have never complained about how they are treated in their workplace. I am not in a position to comment on the rights of women in rural areas since I have never lived in one but you may be right because I have read stories about problems that women face in rural areas. I must mention once again that I was very much impressed by your article.
Zohaib Waheed

Mystical Raindrops said...

a very sensitive issue to adress, but beautifully written, highlighting the keypoints, IS THE KEY!
great work. superb insight. keep up the good work!!

Ammad said...

Well written, I think lack of proper awareness is the reason for the women being treated the way they are being, Changes have taken place but not to a noticable extent. People still have many misleading concepts about what`s right or wrong. It does sound a little over dramatic.

However in the big cities alot of opportunities are being created for women but the problem still remains "awareness" because these people did not fall out of the sky, they migrated from rural areas, so their set of ideas or the way they think still remains the same.

Anisa Ahmad said...

Guys do u have any idea about the law against domestic violence against women in pakistan

Anisa Ahmad said...

Guys do u have any idea about the law against domestic violence against women in pakistan