By Nida Tehseen
LAHORE – The Global Youth Clan yesterday organised a panel discussion on “Gender Violence against Women” on the occasion of 16 days of Activism by United Nations to end Gender Based Violence at Punjab University’s Institute of Administrative Sciences.
One of the panellists was Laraib Abid, a social activist and founder of Mashal Organization which works for social welfare.
Other panellists included Raheel Sharoon, head of Peace Building Department at Diocese Church; Bilal Ahmed, director of FAIDA Foundation and a motivational speaker; and Fajar Ajmal, who has been ranked among Top Thirteen Incredible Geniuses of Pakistan.
The event, which began very beautifully with the recitation of the Holy Quran, went very well in the hands of moderator Khadija Siddiqui, who inspired many students by her breath-taking life threatening experience.
Khadija Siddique started the session by questioning Raheel Sharoon about how he was striving for peace regarding gender-based violence. He replied: “Unfortunately, this topic, Gender Violence, is new. Well, we have a need of capacity building in our society. We are short of safe spaces. We don’t have safe spaces where we can talk freely and talk whatever we want to.”
Sharoon says his main focus is on peace building. He thinks of himself as a person who treats women very nicely and fairly. According to him, the main issue of our society are those people who actually do not take any steps when they see violence taking place around them because they think that it’s not their problem so they don’t need to worry about it at all. “This idea needs to be not there in people’s mind,” he stressed.
Proceeding further, discussion paved its way towards Laraib Abid when she was asked about her point of view on the topic of discussion. She stated gender is a cultural term. “Society first needs to adopt equity and then equality,” she added.
Equity refers to ‘fairness’ and Equality refers to ‘equal rights and space for both men and women in our society without any kind of discrimination’.
She further explained the six institutions of our society which influence gender-based violence i.e. Family, Religion, Government, Education, Economics, and Media.
Laraib Abid quoted: “A child starts learning from the day first he is born. If we keep telling him from the start that he is superior then how we can expect him not to be violent against women in future. You have to socialise your child from the day first.”
When questioned by the moderator, Bilal Ahmed shared his views about what he thinks. He said what if he changed the terms of the topic of discussion – “Gender Violence against Women” to “Women against Gender Violence”. This was a very remarkable statement by him. Bilal said the reason, victim and cure of this violence against women are the women themselves. “All we need to do is change the terms of superior and inferior.”
Bilal Ahmed also put forward this idea that women are the nation builders. “It’s a woman’s duty to provide a nation to the society. It’s her responsibility to build a nation. If she raise them right, they will lead towards a fruitful and great nation. Exclude the terms ‘Inferior’ and ‘Superior’. All we need is balance,” he added.
Furthermore, Fajar Ajmal put forward her point of view and stated that violence is not just about hitting someone. “Violence is psychological, systematic and economical!”
She added: “Violence includes the generally passed remarks which may hurt someone or it could be ragging or even a stare. Even forced marriages are violence.”
She further said that every person is empowered to take own decisions by staying within boundaries. “You have full right to get yourself educated and if someone stops you from education then even that refers to violence,” she added.
Fajar also quoted an example of her father being stereotypical and how she convinced him in order to get what she wanted but keeping in mind the limits and boundaries the society allows.
In the end of the discussion, the audience gave a huge round of applause when Laraib Abid gave her countering statement in response to what Bilal Ahmed had said earlier. “Change your next generation! Next time your daughter won’t be asking you but she will be telling you,” said Laraib.
A transgender, named Taimoor Aashi, was also invited to this session as a guest and she was called upon stage to describe her views which she did and made many people emotional by her heart wrenching story.
In the end, Chairman Global Youth Clan Mr Tahir Khattak presented souvenirs to Chief Guest Prof Dr Nasira Jabeen (Dean Faculty of Management & Economics, Punjab University), the moderator, panellists and honourable guest Taimoor Aashi.