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Gender disparity is devouring women in Pakistan

By: Abdul Rehman Iqbal

Molana Tair Ashrafi said that it was really frustrating to see talk shows and TV programmes giving little space to issues like gender inequality and added that even op-eds gave scanty space to such topics that had direct bearing on people’s psychological and physical lives.

Molana Tahir Ashrafi gave these remarks in his programme, Din-o-Dunya, at Business Plus on Saturday. Molana Tahir took it on himself to point out the atrocities meted out to women in our culture today and to search for a solution to these.

Head of Jamia-al-Manzoor-al-Islamia and Islamic scholar Pir Saifullah Kahlid and prominent journalist, analyst and thinker Mehmal Sarfraz were invited to discuss discrimination against Muslim women in an Islamic country like Pakistan. Pir Saifullah started his conversation by discounting the prevalent attitude of a Pakistani Muslim towards women, saying that when someone negated the presence of women, he actually negated reality and the very essence of the creation of this universe.

Women were as much part of this world as any other creature. Delving upon the practice of taking daughters as a liability in the pre-Islamic era, Pir Saifullah quoted a verse from the holy Quran that picturesquely sketched the situation of those times: “When the birth of a girl is announced to any of them, his face darkens and he is filled with gloom.In his shame he hides himself away from this people, because of bad news he has been given, should he keep her and face disgrace or bury her in the dust? Ah, what an evil choice they decide on.”[16:58,59].

The situation has not changed, even today we feel disgraced on the birth of a daughter and seek to kill her, if not physically, then by depriving her of her rights to education, health, and social participation, said Pir Saifullah.

Commenting on the practices of killing women in the name of honour and alienating them from the social, political and economic arena, Mehmal Sarfraz held religious scholars responsible for not using important occasions and places, such as sermons during Friday prayers and other congregational events, to create awareness among the masses with regard to the ruling of the holy Quran on the status of women. “We have to understand that women are equal to men and no one can clip her of her rights to work, move free and decide about her career” said Mehmal.

When Islam came into being in fourteen hundred years ago, the Arabian Peninsula was the trading partner of many advanced countries located in the Roman and Persian empires of those times. Most of these were rich Arabs who had gained respect owing to their hold of Makkah. The flow of money and rubbing shoulders with the elites did little in changing the tribal and conservative mindset with regard to looking upon their daughters as a liability. Daughters were buried alive.

Those who were left to live were denied their share in inheritance and were forbidden from any economic participation. The rights of women were subservient to those of men. This gender discrimination had led women to acquire multiple psychological and physical anomalies. Islam bought this disparity index down to a level where women were equal to men and placed the latter as the guardian and administrator of the former. Women were given their inheritance rights by Islam and had full permission to attend any political, social and economic participation, the participants said.

The irony is that Pakistan, created for Muslims, has become one of the worst countries as far as treating women are concerned. We are killing women on the name of honour. We are burying our daughters alive. We are giving our daughters as feud money to end bad blood between two groups. We deprive them of inheritance. We marry them off to the Quran to prevent them form parting us away from our wealth that one has to give in dowry in case of marriage. We are even selling our daughters today to make our ends meet.

“Though we have glorious policies and laws in place to protect women, none of these had been implemented sincerely by the authorities. This shows our interest in protecting and safeguarding women from cultural and general atrocities,” said Molana Tahir, wrapping up the programme discussion.

Source: Daily Times