At the moment, life seems to be a manifestation of an apocalypse. Every day, the stories being discussed either on TV channels, in the newspapers, or in my surroundings leave me awe-struck. As a girl not yet stepped into womanhood, life is giving me a hard time accepting the way some people i.e particularly men, operate in the world of women. The stories I hear, with a livid face and aching soul, are mostly about the patriarchal mindset of our men. Men breaking all records of domestic violence previously set by their own selves, men torturing their wives about everyday affairs which is tantamount to slow poisoning, men enjoying extramarital affairs and coming home to seize phones from their better halves for their more-than-half-an-hour long call to their mothers, men leaving their formerly ‘most abiding love’ in the lurch for a newfound ‘fairer, prettier and a wealthier lover’, men using women as a baby-making machine to men blackmailing them to men objectifying their personalities. Just a slight mention here that I, on a regular basis, see women being dehumanized by men and thus none of these traits of men are fictitious but are an extract of my everyday observation. There must be exceptions, I believe that, but I also believe these exceptions are as hard to be found as the needle in a haystack.
As you can guess, this article predominantly talks about ‘domestic violence’ for I genuinely feel this is the root cause of every other violence exercised on women. Women, from an incredibly early age, accept the fact that they are the children of a lesser God. Parents prioritizing sons over daughters, the former enjoying childhood delights while the latter helping in the domestic chores plants the very first seed of inferiority, weakness, dependence, and fear. As they grow, these sentiments grow with their body. That is when the whole operating system of the world turns shambolic. They are now perfectly grown dwarfs. They are a weakling ready to be toyed by men. What is worse, is that they are mechanized to deliberately choose to stay under a battleground of a house. They pledge to serve these evil incarnate to death, they voluntarily remain under the roof of toxic household, they refuse to practice their legal rights just to secure them an abusive ‘sense of security’. What good a man can do to you if he has failed to respect you, which has nothing to do with the genders but only with being a Homosapien. Why don’t you just rid yourself of this debacle of a life?
Talk about women’s struggle on a larger scale, apart from the gender inequality and sexism they have to put up with inside the four walls of their houses, there are many instances of women being harassed and abused in almost every walk of life. They are at war everywhere. According to an estimation of a renowned lawyer Aasma Jahangir, about 72 percent of women are physically assaulted in Pakistan. However, the aforementioned statement is about the cases that are reported to the concerned institutes. The cases that go unreported are much more than those reported. As if these horrendous acts were not enough, the stigma that is attached to the highlighting of such heinous crimes like harassment, sexual violence, honor killing has rendered women’s lives much more dysfunctional and miserable. The act of binding women into forced marriages as Vanni is a common practice in the hamlets of Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK. The women of boondocks of Pakistan are the most exploited creatures out there, who are considered no better than the scum of the society. Not only are they physically battered but they also suffer from mental aberration which sometimes, ipso facto, turns into an incurable illness.
The overriding principle that gives birth to strong and independent women, is to educate them. Unfortunately, something as basic as receiving an education is embargoed in their lives. In accordance with a report published in HRW, only 13% of girls in Pakistan are able to make it to the 9th grade. They are taken out of the schools before they can even make sense of the world around them. Their dreams are killed before their execution. And if scarcely ever, a handful of round pegs in a square hole come out, who strive to use their legal rights of independence; they are murdered, mainly in the name of honor. They are coerced into silence. The patriarchs, owing to their brutally parochial approach, are always ready to exercise their bloodthirsty masculinity. A few years ago, I was scrolling through my feed and this image showed up which said something that hit me hard and has stayed with me ever since- it said: “Learn the art of generosity and love from a sister who would know about a thousand immoral acts of her brother but would never ever kill him in the name of honor.” But let us save our energy by not delving into the subject of the fragile egos of men in this male-dominated society, that cannot allow their women to just let be, let alone supporting them in their life decisions.
However, despite this ceaseless flux of unwelcome happenings and incidents, there are some extraordinary who choose to rise above the sourest of lemons thrown at them by society. We have a larger than life figure of Malala, we have an unapologetic, unsubdued spirit of Mukhtaran Mai, we have a fierce dreamer Naseem Hamid and we have a million Malalas, Mukhatrans, and Naseems around us who are just waiting to be heard, accepted, appreciated and recognized. They are the unsung heroes, having stories that give you shiver down your spine, having eyes that speak centuries of pain, but still, they stand up. They stand up for themselves. For us. For the generations to come. They are the women of war. Women at war. But more importantly, they are the invincible warriors. And as long as they refuse to submit, the sadist forces that launch these wars, wars from within and without, fail to bury, what they are unaware of, are actually seeds. The verses of Maya Angelou quite explicitly pertain to the ‘Sheroes’ being mentioned-
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
May there always be such illuminating, unflinching forces that may as well become the lighthouse for those still struggling to rise above the ashes and those who are groping in the dark.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.