Often we emphasize the need of “Women Empowerment” in our society. We, might not agree to the details but majority of us agree that our women need more space than they are currently given in the subcontinent socioculture. Whenever we hear about the cases of women suffering from domestic violence, acid attacks or rape, the passion of providing a safer environment for the female gender ignites and we feel the importance of the empowerment, women deserve & must be given. But how naive of us to think that our condemnation would solve the problem! Do we really think that by just claiming to be a ‘gender equality adovcate’ or ‘well-educated’ would provide the women in our society the status and the safety they deserve? Are we really that stupid to believe that the only people who are creating this society uncomfortable & unsafe for women are the illeterate uber/careem drivers or some drug-addict desperates from the backward villages? What if I tell you, that Yes we are! We as a society, ARE that naive & stupid to believe that we, “The Well Educated Urban Citizens” have no role in making this society what it is for women. But the fact is that we are, like it or not, EQUALLY responsible for the mess. We, the educated ones, are as guilty of being the oppressers as any illeterate pervert. We, those who claim to be ‘Khandaani’ are no better than any harasser. We, both men & women, are responsible, for we choose to stay silent to the oppression other women face. Yes, We are responsible for we ONLY consider OUR sister, OUR mother & OUR daughter to be the women who deserve empowerment, but when it comes to our wives or any other women, we make them bow down to the rotten, rusted & oppressing sociocultural norms of subcontinent. Let’s just not be unfair to men, the women as well, are often the first ones to pull down other women whenever they can. Be it their daughter in law or their sister in law or any other women going through harrassment or any girl who’s a victim of our pathetic norms. The well educated ladies, speaking about the majority, want all the rights for themselves & not for other women. The preachers of women empowerment want to see their daughters independent & free from social pressures but not their ‘Bahus’. It’s as cheap and funny as it sounds, but this is the fact that it’s a rigorous cycle started by our misguided ancestors that is still running in our family culture. Mothers have entirely different rules for their daughters & daughter in laws. Girls want their husband to be a patient listener but her brother to be a dominating man. Guys want the most accommodating & noble husband for their sisters but are not willing to be the one for their wives. Yet we all, running, practicing, imposing this cycle of oppression in our households, claim that we are ‘well educated’ people who want women empowerment. Not only marital issues, lets look at a major issue a woman face, especially during her academic years, HARRASSMENT. You must be thinking, “Oh come on, WE, ‘The Well Educated’ ones never support harrassment”, but in the next few minutes, I am going to prove that we DO. We DO shamelessly support, encourage and create an environment for harrassment, abuse and hold it there, RAPE. Back in 2014, a CCTV footage from our university got leaked on youtube. In that video, a final year student was seen violently beating a girl during a verbal argument, in a lab. The face of the guy was visible, so his friends, batch mates & the entire university actually discovered that he was a sick women abuser. BUT, He was seen roaming with his friends, both male & female, just like nothing happened. The guy, who should have been socially isolated, by everyone, for being such an animal, was just doing fine with his life. In another example, back in 2011 maybe, an O level student leaked the nude videos & pictures of her “girlfriend” and it went like wildfire. All of her & his friends and students from other schools saw it & shamelessly shared it mocking the girl for being so ‘shameless’. Those pictures, became a ‘stain’ on the girl’s character & haunted her for years. BUT, I don’t remember ANYONE socially boycotting that prick who leaked those images. Neither the girls, nor the boys. Infact, “I am friends with the COOL guy who leaked the nudes” became a popular introduction for many. Please keep in mind, I am talking about a top notch university & O/A level schools of Lahore. Even today, whenever there’s an incident of a leaked footage of a girl, she is immediately tagged as “The shameless girl who sent nudes” but no one would have a sense of hatred for the moron who leaked those images & no one tags him as “The BEGHERAT pervert who has no respect for women”. Even today, we give all the reasons to a woman to stay silent and have patience after getting beaten up by her husband, fiance or any man anyway linked to her but we won’t have the guts to publicly shame or criticize a proven domestic abuser. We, the so called “Well Educated”, by our silence towards the every day mistreatment of the women around us, pave the way for harassment & abuse. We, by not shaming the proven perverts encourage all the pricks around us that it’s completely fine if you leak a girl’s nudes, for even if you do, we’ll still be your friend. We, by not bravely discouraging domestic abuse for some other women, encourage every sick minded man out there to beat the hell out of the women at their house, as no one would question them about it outside the walls. We, by not recognizing the rapists, harassers & abusers amongst us, are making this society less safer for other women. We, by staying silent and not taking stand against women oppression, are directly supporting the oppressors. We, by not keeping the same standards for other women as we have for us & our sisters, are becoming, one of the oppressors. Till the time, we start doing “SOCIAL BOYCOTT” of each and every guy who has anyway harrassed, abused or disrespected a girl we know; We can not talk about women empowerment. Till the time, we start giving our wives ALL the rights our religion has given to her e.g. Seperate Shelter, Pocket Money, Right to Work, and much more JUST like we demand all the rights of a ‘Majazi Khuda’; We can not talk about women empowerment. Till the time, we start considering domestic abuse & women beating, a totally unacceptable act WHATSOEVER; We can not talk about women empowerment. Till the time, we set the same rules for our wives & sisters, our daughters & daughter in laws, for ourselves & for other women; We can not talk about women empowerment. Till the time, we realize that no matter we support meesha shafi or not, we MUST advocate for the women around us, who are oppressed/harassed in front of our eyes; We can not talk about women empowerment. The change starts with YOU. With YOU boycotting EVERY harrasser in your circle. With you shaming that “cool” guy who leaked any girl’s pictures. With YOU standing with a domestically abused women, unconditionally. I can just hope, that this long piece, would trigger at least a tiny change in you & you will try to go extra miles to make this society a bit more safer for women. But if doesn’t, DO NOT TALK ABOUT WOMEN EMPOWERMENT. Javeria Arif Islamabad
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