Friday, October 11, 2013

Naya Pakistani - A Fight against Patriarchy and Double Standards

Earlier this year, Pakistan was struck by the election fever and there were chants and roars of  “Naya Pakistan”  (new Pakistan)  echoing from every nook and cranny of the  whole country. I’m not too sure what that whole campaign was promising, and I must admit that I was (and still am) very skeptical about Imran Khan’s idea of “change”, but I do believe that in order to progress, what this country desperately needs is a “Naya Pakistani”.
Pakistan is strictly a patriarchal society, where the main purpose of women is servitude. The women are looked upon as a secondary entity that has to be controlled, either by the father, the brother or the husband. The way we look at and treat our women is deplorable. Street crime, sexual harassment, rape, honor killings and female infanticide, child marriages all take place on a day to day basis, and our reaction –silence.  This says a lot about  our ethics as a society. Even in colleges and workplaces, more than often women are quick to be categorized as “loose charactered” , ( which is society’s terminology for  being immoral and easy) and that too on the basis of the way they dress and their independence.  But of course the same doesn't go for men.
 From childhood onwards, there is a certain level of bias in most households which is constantly brainwashing the minds of both boys and girls in the house making them realize their gender roles.The boys are allowed a lot more liberty than girls, encouraging them to believe that they are superior to girls in a number of ways. The girls are forced to dress in a way that is considered acceptable in the society, stripping them of all rights to dress according to their own choice. Even when it comes to marriage, a girl who dares to marry with her own will is shunned and labeled as shameless but there are no such rules for the boys.  Now we know that smoking is injurious to health for both male and female. Find out your teenage son is smoking? Lecture him a bit, scold him a bit, and that the end of the story. Find out your adult daughter is smoking? Yell at her, start crying, start hiding face from the society, curse her, hurl abuses at her and in short make life a living hell for her! So are we not promoting the patriarchal mindset ourselves, every time we define gender roles in our homes?

Even the aunties, who are hunting for a bahu rani will dismiss the thoughts of any girl who dares to go against the society’s norms.  If you’ve ever been to the seemingly hifi desi weddings there’s always a group of four five ladies, all ready with their designer outfits, perfectly blow dried hair and meticulously painted faces ready with all the latest family gossip. (I can’t help but listen to their conversation wondering if their talking about me!)  Their typical conversation “That girl seems sweet, but haiii no I saw a picture of her wearing sleeveless”,  “That girl over there seems sweet too , but oh my! I’ve heard she’s had an affair in the past, what shame she has brought to her family, uff Allah! *makes that frown face* , oh but wait that girl over there in yellow with a duppata on her head seems like a good match…” then one of the other aunties will say, “oh don’t even think about it, this head-covering shovering is all a clever act, I tell you on the inside she is of ….loose character!” …..So ironically, even our own women promote this patriarchal “It’s a man’s world” mindset.

What’s even more disgusting is that since a very early age boys are given a free pass to disrespect women and pass judgments about them.  Whistling, passing lewd comments, groping, stalking and harassing are the norms, and instead of finding these acts shameful, it is usually a matter of pride and a way to bond with other men. But of course the men are never to be blamed and always get to hide behind the security blanket society’s given to them. In a society like ours,  all it takes to get away with this wretched behavior is to blame it on the girl , the way she dresses, the way she walks, talks, and if nothing else, then fabricate a story of her being loose charachtered and deserving of such treatment! 

How can we even dream of  a better Pakistan with such pathetic morals and mentality, where the females are the most vulnerable of all living things, where the male ego is so large that even murder in the name of  ‘family honour’ is accepted.   It’s high time we bring about a revolution from our own homes, and transform ourselves into “Naya Pakistanis” where we rise above these societal pressures and treat our women with the respect and dignity that they deserve.  We need to break free from the chains of patriarchy and give our woman their rights when it comes to education, property, power and status. Only then can we hope for a Naya Pakistan!


  1. Well done. Looking forward for more

    1. ...and the picture goes really well with the content of the article

  2. totally agreed. beautifully written hafza. would like to read more from you. keep it up :D

  3. Very thought-provoking and accurately written. Specially the point about smoking. It just underlines the glaring double standards in our society when it comes to men and women

  4. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.