It is the woman who creates the world, she who preserves and destroys, with a wink of her wonder eyes, she holds the universe in her womb
THE social fabric of Pakistan is knitted with a multitude of diverse ideologies, beliefs and norms, some of them even abominable. This milieu of social prejudices and religious incongruity leads to deplorable conditions of health and education amongst women, along with numerous incidents of abandoned female newborns, acid throwing and flagrant accusations of adultery, a crime by law. This, being just the tip of the iceberg, incites many women to raise their voices for the protection of women rights and take practical measures for the alleviation of their misery.
Amongst the 3 of them I will mention, Bilqees Edhi, the founder and guiding beacon of the Bilqees Edhi Foundation has made a tremendous contribution towards women and children’s health and education and protection of the abandoned newborns. More than 16000 unwanted babies have so far been received by this foundation to be raised and educated in numerous Edhi Homes. Parents put the babies in the cradles placed in various centres all over the country without identification and this foundation provides them with love, care and education to make them the productive citizens of the society. In addition, this foundation also provides emergency services, maternal health facilities and educational and vocational opportunities for women. This organization is considered to be a symbol of trust in a society riddled with corruption and un-transparency. To Bilquis Edhi, the most cherishing moments of the services she has rendered would no doubt be the ones that have gone unnoticed in the public domain. One such instance according to Anwar Kazmi is as follows:
“A lady doctor came to me and said she wanted to meet Bilquis. She must have been around 35 years of age. She had two children with her and was crying profusely. Bilquis at the time wasn’t around so I asked her to confide in me whatever it was she wanted to say to Bilquis. She told me that 30 years ago Bilquis had set me up for adoption – my parents (who adopted me) took me to America. They looked after me, educated me and I became a doctor. When they were dying they told me for the first time that I was actually adopted and now that they are dead I believe that Bilquis is my mother. I have come from America just to meet my mother.”
The heinous act of acid throwing is increasing in number by the day. The face of the wretched victim is burnt with acid as a sadistic revenge of her husband in the majority of cases. The physical and psychological trauma to the woman is tremendous. One of the few rays of hope for these women is the Smile Again Foundation founded by Musarrat Misbah, the owner of the country’s biggest chain of beauty salons. These women are provided free medical and surgical reconstruction procedures in Pakistan and if need be, abroad. They have to undergo multiple surgeries to makeup for the severe disfigurement. Along with this, these women need psychiatric support, which is provided with a loving care. This organization then trains and hires theses women in the Diplex Beauty Salon in its multiple branches all over the country. Hundreds of victims of this deplorable crime have found a reason to smile again by this foundation.
The social injustice has found its way in the annals of law making as well. Some of the laws, Hudood Ordinance being one of them, drafted to deter the society from adultery, turned out to be biased against women, with gaping holes that were abused in prosecutions and jurisdictions. Despite this, no one dared to raise a voice against them due to the strong support of the religious factions. Aasma Jahangir, a lawyer and human rights activist ,then started her law firm to defend the women and provide them with the legal support. Her fight for the provision of awareness and rights to women has ranked her amongst the most successful lawyers. She has always refused to bow down to any social and political pressure and has stood by the truth bravely.
Such brave hearted and compassionate women have essayed to change the image of Pakistan in the world. They have altered social attitudes towards women as daughters, mothers, wives, and daughter in laws, and their contribution to improving women rights in Pakistan are such which rarely have been rivalled.