It was one balmy evening in October when I was in the market with my cousin sisters that some tremors of an earthquake suddenly jolted the tectonic plates in my city, Quetta, which rests on an active seismic fault line. At first, I could not understand as to what was happening. I remember all the shopkeepers running out of their shops with fear traceable on their faces. We also stopped beside a car, waiting for things to settle, when a bearded man running by our side furiously uttered, “Ye sab tum logon ki waja say hota hy jo tum log gharon pay nai bethtay ho”. “It all happens because of you people that you do not stay at your homes”. That man was generally blaming every woman for a natural calamity that no one had control over.
This attitude of that very stranger sent deep shocks to my brain and left me bewildered at the embedded biases against women in the society. In fact, it has been in the nature of human beings to not take the responsibility of their actions and blame those they find the most vulnerable. Moreover, it is their ignorance that makes them do so. In ancient times man would ascribe any faulty behaviour on part of any human being, be it male or female, as the cause of any natural calamity. And we can clearly see similar behaviours in these modern times too. Women in Pakistan are at the receiving end. Once again as all the guns are pointed at their actions which, such a mind-set thinks, have triggered the worldwide pandemic—COVID-19.
Why is woman always so vulnerable? Why is she blamed for everything? Why is her freedom always targeted? Why does the obscurantists always try to find a safe haven behind a woman? Why not view all the things the other way round. Simply put, will it not be justified to see the other side of the picture? Let us say that COVID-19 occurred because innocent little girls were raped and brutally killed by not any wild animals in the jungles but by men around them in the same society which is being corrupted by the actions of women. Let us tell the world how shamelessly men harass women under the cloaks of being teachers, bosses, doctors and even siparay walay qaari sahabs. Why not bring to the fore stories that tell how cruelly women are being subjected to domestic violence by their so called “mijazi khuda”, their husbands who in reality were their guardians and protectors. Let us not forget those men who kill their wives for giving birth to girls and those also who abandon their wives along with their daughters because they were unable to give birth to a male child. These are just some of the examples of the subjugation and oppression that women have to face in our society at the hand of men. Are such injustices and cruelties not enough to incur the wrath of God?
This reminds me of yet another incident that again teaches men to blame women for their faulty behaviours. Once in my college I was sitting with a friend on a bench with our backs towards the wall. This wall separated the girls campus of our college from the boys campus. And suddenly a peon appeared and asked us to leave that place saying ”Aap log yahn say uth jaen larkay kharab ho rahay hn”, “please leave this place the boys are being spoiled”. Any sane mind would naturally question that how can women be responsible for the character and chastity of men. They are themselves responsible for their actions. If this society expects a woman to be responsible for her chastity and character why are men not viewed from the same lens. It is a pity seeing how fragile the character of some men could be that can easily be shaken by mere the dressing, sight and presence of women.
As a society and as a nation we need to mend our ways, our way of thinking and learn to take the responsibility of our actions. It is high time we started strengthening and empowering our women in the true sense of the word. It is our responsibility to learn to treat women with respect and to view them as human beings who can equally be productive for the betterment of our society. It is in these women that we find our mothers and it is under the feet of mothers that the paradise lay. And obviously one cannot enter paradise by disgracing and disrespecting it. In these modern times it is the responsibility of each and every man to realise his role as a father, brother, husband, teacher, co-worker and so on and instead of blaming women for every folly we need to approach the things around in a logical and scientific manner. Gone are the days when the source of every natural calamity was to be traced in religion and the vulnerable had to be blamed or sacrificed to please the gods and goddesses.
The writer is a Quetta based freelancer & a graduate of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). She has recently completed MS in English Literature and Linguistics.