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The price of saying NO

Asma Rani was just two-years short of becoming a full-fledged doctor.

She was a third-year medical student at Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad and was on vacations in her home-town, Kohat, where she was shot down thrice at her doorstep.

Just a moments ago, a confident and ambitious girl was fiercely pursuing her dreams. And just like that – in a blink of an eye – her life, her dreams and her future were all gone.

Asma Rani’s crime was that she dared to say ‘no’ to a man. She was killed by a man whose fragile ego was hurt because she rejected his marriage proposal. Because a man couldn’t digest that his wish of a second marriage can’t be granted.

After the incident, MujahidAfridi, the murderer and an alleged relative of a local leader of PTI, immediately fled to Saudi Arabia. The cowardice of our men is amusingly detestable, to say the least.

The tragedy here is that this is not a tragedy in Pakistan. It was just another incident, another news, another day. It is a norm in this country for a girl getting killed because she chooses to marry or not to marry by her choice. A norm that goes unnoticed and unpunished.

Now, let’s assume for a moment, that the murderer will be caught and hanged. Fair enough, justice served – should be served. But, deep inside we know that this will not ensure that no other woman in future will be killed in cold blood for rejecting a marriage proposal; that it will not suffice to create enough deterrence for anyone to even think of doing this again; that it will not cure the false sense of entitlement of our men.

Because penalties cure crimes, not mindsets.

The dilemma here is more than just the failure of the state in protecting women. The dilemma here is the mindset and this dilemma further trace back to our homes where this mindset is created and nourished. If we choose to look closely, we will see that our homes are the origin and haven of this sick mindset that allows men to take a life of any woman – with impunity – who don’t bow down to their wishes.

We brought up our men on the foundations that they have an absolute power and authority over women; their bodies, their lives and their decisions. Our men are being tamed to go around and do with women whatever they desire because they are told it’s their birthright.

Because our men are given unlimited and unjustified control over women in homes, they believe that they have an authority over others’ sisters and daughters too just like they have over theirs. This deep-rooted patriarchy that dances in our homes has converted our men into murderers.

If we need a safe world for women outside, we need to create one in our homes. Until, husbands will not treat their wives as equal; until, fathers will not stop imposing their choices and decisions on their daughters; until, sons will not be told to mind their own business and that their sisters are neither their property nor they are answerable to them for whatever they choose to do with their lives, nothing will be cured.

If we want no other girl to be killed, we need to kill this ego of men and their sense of authority over women.

If we want our daughters to be safe, we need to kick patriarchy out of our homes.

More than dispensing exemplary punishment we need to fix the twisted “morality” and misplaced “ghairat” of our men.

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