Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Death of a woman

The gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi and her subsequent death is a horrific reminder of how women are treated in this part of the world. Though the appalling incident happened in India, it made all the women in Pakistan empathize with their sisters in the neighbouring country because it could very easily be one of them. Things are just as bad, if not worst, for the women in our society and we realize that it is not just the six men who had committed that heinous act are the criminals. The societies that perpetuate the archaic notions of misogyny and make excuses for such acts by pointing towards a woman’s mobility or clothing are responsible for it.  

That rape incident did not happen in isolation. The crimes against women are on the rise, especially in our part of the world — be it rape, domestic violence, mental, physical or sexual abuse, threats of such abuse, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty to move around, to choose a life partner or to seek education or health care. Women are generally viewed as secondary citizens, incapable of making decisions for themselves. Women who dare to exercise that right are judged and at times punished by society for doing so. A fundamental attitudinal change in the way women are viewed by society is required. They are not viewed as active, smart, thinking individuals but as vessels that carry future generations during the gestation period, objects of desire or derision and the carriers of honour of the male members of their families.

One thing that comes to the fore in the aftermath of the Delhi gang-rape case is the need to make ethics a part of school curricula everywhere and a part of a massive media campaign because we desperately need it. We teach useless skills in schools all over the world but what about the behavioural codes regarding women in public and private spaces? What constitutes acceptable behaviour and what is deemed inappropriate? Are they taught about the consequences of inappropriate behaviour or do they believe that they will be not be apprehended because society is permissive of their misdeeds and will let them go with the attitude that “boys will be boys?” Are they taught how to approach women, which should be a taught skill in societies as segregated as ours. Laws ensuring women’s rights and safety are necessary and should be strictly implemented but they can only work when society in general changes its attitude.

It is sickening to live in a world where a medical student is gang raped because she dared to step out in the evening and wanted to use public transport or a teenage girl, Malala Yousufzai, is shot in the head because she just wanted to go to school. They shouldn’t have to become either a victim or a hero; the Delhi girl should have remained a carefree medical student and Malala should have stayed the student whose biggest problem should have been acing her calculus exam. Instead, they have turned into symbols of courage and valour. At state level, we need legislation to be amended and better implemented to ensure the safety and participation of women in society. Collectively we need rule of law to ensure safety of all citizens, esp women. Individually, the least we can do is raise the next generation of men to respect women and accord them the same dignity that they seek as human beings.

First published in The Express Tribune

I did not want the first post of the year to be this grim and sombre but I guess we live in times when we are capable of being just that - grim, sombre and insipid. 


Rachna said...

I agree with your point about making ethics a part of the school curriculum. We had moral science as a subject when we were studying. Why was that done away with? Another problem is so many different societies co-existing in one. How do we make them live in harmony?

And, word verification is back on :(.

YK said...

Bravo. I generally agree with everything but
i find a little hypocrisy when you are pointing towards the role of media
and how there should be a massive campaign of sorts. I don't how you missed
the role of media itself especially Indian movies which portrays women as mere
objects for fulfilling sexual desires when they are shown dancing erotically
around men in semi naked clothes. This portrayal or imagery of women impacts
the mindset of especially young boys. You cannot change the attitudes by bringing
change in the academics in front of the most powerful influential tool i.e.
the media which uses cleavage to sell everything from movies to motorcycles.

Even in India where this rape happened people are pointing fingers to Bollywood

Here is an excerpt from your last blog

"The applause for Sallu’s bare torso was even more thunderous
than the ceetees and taalis for kareena's item song"

You yourself are marketing Kareena (A woman) item songs which gets ceetes and taalis
from men. Bravo!

vincent said...

hello Tazeen!!!!
Bonne et heureuse année, de bonne santé à toi, à tous ceux que tu aimes et à tous tes lecteurs et surtout à toutes les femmes de la région.
Sois prudente.

Georg said...

Bonjour Tazeen,

Bonne année and glückliches neues Jahr for you, too.

Let's hope 2013 will be a satisfactory year for you, private sphere and professional.

As to this grim story you are telling, it reminds me one phrase out of "Letter to my son Johannes": "never do any harm to a girl because remember, your mother was a girl, too".


Dodge This said...
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