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“Do you think celebrating one day as Women’s Day can really help us solve our problems?”
This was one of the questions I was recently asked in an interview regarding International Women’s Day. It is a realistic question, but one doesn’t need to be an optimist to believe that we can make one day matter. However, if used as a day to introspect, identify, analyse and set goals that need to be met, one day can really make a difference. So what are our most pressing issues related to women, which need to be addressed and should be looked into immediately?

Forget crime, most of the abuse pertaining to women stems from our perception of a woman’s role in society. It is the rampant stereotyping of ‘what a woman can or cannot do’ that makes it easier to discriminate, and this category is extremely diverse. Ranging from what a woman can wear to whether she can work, and what age she should get married to whether women can smoke. Some of these things may seem trivial and not as important when looked at the more pressing issues at hand, but these ‘insignificant’ issues are still important. Not only do these set of self-proclaimed morals encourage discrimination, they also justify crime against women. The culture of silence and shame is part of it. A woman is expected to never raise her voice against abuse. In fact, the very definition of abuse is distorted. For many, marital rape is a myth and domestic violence should be tolerated.

“Mard hai, ghussa agaya” (He is a man, it is okay for him to get angry)

But a woman can’t, even if she’s beaten black and blue. Because of course she is the upholder of dignity of the entire generation.

Amid all the news of war, politics and economic despair stories of abuse, rape and resistance pertaining to women are often marginalised. From the way cases are reported to the investigation process, everything is in shambles. Not only is it extremely difficult for a woman to report a crime, the legal process also gives little hope of justice being served. Our courts are still seen, by many, as largely male-dominated territories.

Women are then discouraged to report cases or pursue legal action. I have written about rape, harassment, honour killings and crimes against women extensively as a way to counter the mindset. The initiation point for me is to at least get people talking about such issues and break the taboo. It might seem very little in the face of heinous crimes but I do feel that all of us need to start voicing our concern about such issues.

By us, I don’t just mean the activists or women; until men realise their responsibility and take ownership, our issues will never really be addressed.

Years of struggle against crimes has made many women bitter. Feminism is then seen as female chauvinism, which has caused even more damage to the women’s rights struggle. Men and women are counterparts, therefore for the women rights struggle to really make an impact, the men in our society will have to join ranks and put an end to the emotional and psychological abuse. How do we make that happen? By engaging people in discourse and, encouraging and involving young men to help define the various forms of abuse and suggest ways in which they can be countered.

Laws do not exist in a vacuum, they are upheld and implemented by people from within the society. Unless the mindset is tackled at the grassroots level, there is very little hope that these laws will be used in their full capacity to eradicate violence – whether psychological or physical – against women. If we start by putting an end to reinforcing gender roles onto our children, in other words put an end to ‘what you can or can not do’ we can redefine the way issues pertaining to women are perceived and tackled.

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7 thoughts on “More Men To End Abuse Against Women

  1. I like the new look of your blog 🙂 and love your article.

    The mindset that needs to change is that of husbands. If husbands would treat their wives right, then most issues would be solved. Even the religious people of society do not preach kindness towards one’s wife.

    I do have an issue with feminism, as it has gone radical.

  2. @Sarah Are you for real? Do you know the first thing about British Law? I’d say you refrain from making false comments and do some research before you decide on making an incorrect comment on a public forum.
    Both you observations are entirely incorrect

    In case you need a reference, how about reading “Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004” and there are tonnes of case law which interpret this statute.

    As for Pakistani Law, the problem is not only in legislation but in implementation as well.

    Finally, touche on a brilliant article Sana!

  3. Salaams, the situation in the UK is not very different and I say this dispite the greater equality between men and women in the UK. We still have very high levels of violence against women – 2 women are murdered a week in the UK by a partner or ex partner and rape and sexual assult convictions are notoriously difficult to achieve.

    Although it is socially exceptable to walk down the road wearing ‘immodest’ clothing and drink in public if you are then raped it’s still your fault as you were asking for it.

    Many of the excuses for male violence are similar and the exceptance of male anger universal.

    Something has gone very wrong here as despite the level of public awareness of violence against women it is still culturally exceptable.

    At the end of the day it is still excepted that we don’t expect men to take responsibility for their emotions and their behaviour.

  4. I cannot but applaude this article . For 7 yrs now , i have lived in Bangladesh and been confronted against violence , both physical and mental , against women n girls .I am a long time believer that unless men confront this dark side of themselves and start speaking up for their mothers , sisters , children and wives then all the words written n said by women are but autumn leaves in a storm — soon blown away , Why ? Because the men that continue in these acts of violence will never listen or read articles like herte , for the simple fact they do not have any rfespect for the female sex .Here in thios country IO have two very c;lose men friends who are very well known in this country . With their combined help we will be starting a campaign to start educating the young boys to respect etc atc females . Their combined areas of business include owner opf major newspaper , Internationally broadcasting TV stn , political power at the highjest level , the use of the Bangladesh Cricket Board . her it is our [plan to use the cricketing heroes to lend thier names etc to this campaign . It will be the first step in a long , long journey BUT at least it will be a start

  5. Salaam, You are quite right in what you say. However in the UK where the dialogue around violence against women has been more public and where there is some provision many of the issues that face women in Pakistan are the same here. Routinely women are not believed hence rape convictions are low and violence is the home is culturally tolerated hence the high rate of murder of women by parenters or ex- partners. Support for women and children is patchy at best and the current govenment cuts mean that women and childrens services are going first.

    What has not been challeneged in the UK are the cultural attitdues that makes violence against women ( and children) acceptable. Many of these attitudes are similar to the ones you get in Pakitsan – and every where else in the world too. In the UK Domestic Violence is it self is not a crime which says some thing.

    The situation in the UK is a reminder that although social change, gender equality and legistation is good, cultral change is harder.

    You can walk down the road here in immodest clothing and drink in public, thats fine, but if you get raped don’t expect to be taken seriously. You still asked for it.

  6. This just goes to show that even if he was joking it says alot of how those in power think.

    A male Pakistani lawmaker has drawn jeers for proposing a committee to stop the “mental torture” of men by women.

    Jam Tamachi Unar suggested the idea Thursday, after the assembly in Sindh province resolved to create a panel to investigate the torture of women in the country’s rural areas.

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/10/sindh-mpa-says-women-mentally-torture-men.html

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