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On this Independence Day, let’s not forget our women

Beaten, bruised, sexually harassed, traded through the famous custom “Satta Watta” and in the end deserted- these are the conditions of several women living in Pakistan.

A woman was axed to death by her husband over her refusal to allow her husband to marry for the second time in Jhang.

The 12-year-old girl found dead outside Mayo Hospital in Lahore was killed and dumped by her father and brother for ‘not making gol roti’.

At this point, one is forced to ask themselves, whose fault it is that women are born in this barbaric inhumane society like ours?

A society cannot step forward in the field of prosperity if they leave their woman behind. Women are the backbone of a civilized and prosperous society. They constitute the half and are responsible for the upbringing of the other half.

A heart wrecking incident recently took place, A jirga (village council) had ordered the rape of a 17-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old. That, too, in the name of justice.

Moreover, the head of the jirga that handed out this verdict was the uncle of the 17-year-old.

In December 2004, the Government passed a bill that made karo kari punishable under the same penal provisions as murder.

However, tribal leaders and the monstrous husbands still escape owing to the law and order situations and bribery.

In some parts of Sindh, marriage to the Quran is also practiced. Although this custom is alien to Islam and has no religious basis, the practice is often used by men to keep and grab the land of their sisters and daughters.

Another barbaric custom adopted is the child marriage, known as “Vani”. The young girls are forcibly married off in order to resolve the feuds between different clans.

With 13 million girls out of school, Pakistan has the second-largest number of out-of-school female students in the world, a report by Alif Ailaan has revealed.

One of the reason for this is on attaining puberty, parents force their daughters out of school.

The school dropout rate also increases because of early marriages. A report by UNICEF estimates some 21 percent of all marriages involve a person under the age of 18 but Local activists insist the true figure — especially for girls in rural areas — is as high as 60 or 70 percent.

The irony of men & even some women continues to amaze me. A few weeks back, I was surfing the net and came across an article by a well reputed magazine on rape. I expected to see harsh comments on how inhumane and beastly the act was, I was bewildered with anger and frustration to see comments sympathizing the rapist that he must have been ‘driven to frenzy due to inappropriate clothing of the woman’.

I pose a simple question to them. “How modernized must have been the three-and-a-half-year-old girl in Islamabad who was raped & killed and of course thousands of others like her?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah said “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”

So, this Independence Day, let us promise ourselves that we will not celebrate this day merely by sitting at home or hoisting the national flag but will follow the message imparted by independence in the true sense.

To conclude with, I must point out the dire necessity of change and having broader scope.

Change has to start with us. We can take the initiative by treating the women in our lives with respect and equality, by considering women to be self-sufficient beings, and by raising our voices when we witness any kind of violence and discrimination against women especially if we possess the ability to change it.

It can be as small as calling someone out for making misogynistic remarks, for cracking jokes insulting women, or for claiming that women deserve to be harassed if they dress a certain way, amongst other things.

It can be as challenging as speaking up when we see examples of inequality within our own families and having difficult conversations about why women should not be treated as subordinates.

But we must start somewhere, because that’s the most important thing.

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