The short theatrical play, ‘Meri Zaat Zarae Bay Nishan’, aptly served as an eye-opener at the start of the seminar on the role of youth in the diminution of gender-based injustices.
KARACHI: The auditorium at the Sindh Scouts Headquarters was brimming with excited youth on Thursday morning. As soon as the host announced the commencement of the event, a young girl, clad in a burqa, rushed to the stage crying helplessly.
She seemed to be afraid of someone who was chasing her. Another woman appeared on the stage. She was apparently the incharge of the shelter home and tried to console the scared victim. The girl identified herself as Fatima Bibi and told the audience that her in-laws wanted to kill her because she did not bring enough dowry from her parents’ home.
The audience seemed to grow edgier as three other girls entered the hall. Neelam, a domestic worker, had bruises on her face. She had been badly beaten by her master. Sidra’s face was half-burnt. Her husband had thrown acid on her face on the suspicion that she was cheating on him. The fourth was an underage bride, Kiran. She had fled her home because she liked playing with dolls instead of being forced into wedlock.
The short theatrical play, ‘Meri Zaat Zarae Bay Nishan‘, aptly served as an eye-opener at the start of the seminar on the role of youth in the diminution of gender-based injustices.
The play not only sensitised the audience but also disseminated the core message of the programme: that the youth should step up against such injustices. The event was organised by the Foundation of Research and Human Development (FRHD).
“It has been over 40 years since the framing of the Constitution that discourages gender-based discrimination. But the lack of implementation of the laws has added to the plight of women in the country,” said Justice (retd) Zafar Sherwani, who held the rostrum after the play concluded. “We live in a segmented society. People are known for their castes, their social status and power,” he said, while stressing the need for social reform.
On one of the walls of the hall was painted a depiction of a male scout with an oath pertaining to Islamic ideology inscribed alongside it. Pointing towards the picture, Karamat Ali, the director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education and Research, questioned whether girls could not become scouts. He urged the young audience to reject any notions or ideas that discriminated against women. “Whether the discrimination comes from religion, society of anywhere else,” he added. “Never accept it.”
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2014, nine per cent women in Pakistan were unemployed as compared to 5.4 per cent men. Meanwhile, women the average income for females was 70 per cent less than that of males and only three per cent women held important posts such as legislators, senior officials and managers.