Tag Archives: Feminism in Pakistan

7 Points Aurat Should ‘Also’ March For

Aurat March began in Pakistan last year to observe International Women’s Day with the purpose of expressing solidarity with women. With the rise of feminism wave in recent years, many organizations have voiced about women rights and empowerment. It is a much-needed voice.

The March of this year grabbed my attention and I observed many pictures from Karachi and Lahore with women holding banners, posters, and placards. Yes, there were some important messages about honor killing, domestic violence, and individual freedom. But much to my surprise, most of the messages looked like a crusade against men. Although a few were exceptional and spot on, but I think the participants of the march missed the chance to raise the country’s many critical issues related to women. Some of the issues or events which the women should have raised and notified to the government.

There is every possibility that the issues below have been raised by a few but not many and can be voiced the next time such event is organized. Therefore, I am raising a few issues which deserved to reach the advertisement boards and I felt were more important issues than cooking together or finding socks:

01. MINORITY RIGHTS UNDER HUDOOD ORDINANCE

This has been a subject of controversy over the years about Hudood Ordinances (HO) which criminalizes rape and extramarital sex. The HOs which were enacted back in 1979 as the part of General Zia Ul Haq‘s Islamisation process is applied on both Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan. These ordinances are of two types; one is Hadd (punishment under Islamic Law) and the other is Tazir (punishment decided at the discretion of the judge or ruler of the state).

But the problem of this never amended 1979 HO law is that it is unilateral towards Muslims and discriminative towards the minorities. The Muslim man will not be convicted under the HO if he rapes a non-Muslim woman.

Under clause 8 of the Chapter of Zina under HO (VII OF 1979), the proof of Zina or Zina-bil-jabr is liable to Hadd only if at least four MUSLIM witnesses are produced to the case. The court is satisfied only when the requirement of Tazkiyah-al-shuhood (TS) is on the table. TS simply means that the witnesses are truthful persons and abstain from major sins. While applying TS, the law indirectly considers the non-Muslims as witnesses untruthful and unreliable.

Due to this reason, the non-Muslim women are not able to register their statement and has to visit the magistrate under section 21. The worst possible damage for a non-Muslim woman getting raped is her pregnancy. The DNA tests will decide if the illicit child is of the rapist. Only then there is a possibility of her getting justice which is by then exhausting and humiliating if she really survived to that day.

In the first place, HO introduced ambiguity into the law by recognizing rape with fornication/adultery in the same frame which is exquisitely horrible. Fornication or adultery is a ‘voluntary’ sexual intercourse between the two but rape is when the one indulges by forcing the other. Former is sin by religion, the latter is a crime by law.

Imagine how many non-Muslims are imprisoned due to the confusion and mess created by these laws. We do speak of minority rights but what about those who are jailed for wrong reasons?

02. LOW PAY SCALE OF SPORTSWOMEN THAN SPORTSMAN

I am not aware of the other sports but let’s not expect any good about women earning some respectable amount as compared to men in any sports because the situation in this matter is worst in cricket.

In Aug.2018, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced central contracts for 33 men and was further reported that the male cricketers were getting an increment in their salaries by 25-30%.

Among the 4 categories, the players under the top category which is A were to get Rs. 800,000/month. This followed by players under category B, C, and D to get Rs. 500,000, Rs. 350,000 and Rs.200,000 a month respectively.

Four months prior, when PCB announced a central contract for 21 women, the board was paying an extremely small amount. As compared to men under A category paid Rs.800k, the women were paid only Rs.100k. Yes, eight times less!

The same case with the women under B, C and D categories were paid only Rs.80k, Rs.60k and Rs.40k a month.

I am not saying that the women should demand equivalent to the amount men are paid in Pakistan cricket. I understand the global marketing, advertising, organizing tours and fixtures, ticket sales fetch more of the board’s budget in men’s cricket than women’s. But paying eight times lesser to women is not justice at all.

Not many families can afford their daughters to step out and play the sports they love as they have to tackle many domestic and social issues. Coming from tough and difficult background stories, physical fitness and health is a huge focus for these sportswomen and I don’t think that most of the sports will facilitate them enough. Maybe cricket in Pakistan but the figures in the contracts above are discouraging.

The central contracts for women were announced a few months ago without mentioning the amount in figures. But what change will there be? And this is cricket I am talking about. You decide yourself what women are paid in the other sports.

03. WORKFORCE AND PAY GAP

As per the new Global Gender Pay Gap (GGPG) released by the World Economic Forum in December 2018, it will take 202 years to close the gap or in other words, men and women will earn the same figure of money in any given position across the globe after 200 years have crossed. This has improved from the 2017 report which predicted 217 years. Furthermore, women today are paid 63% of what men earn.

149 countries were ranked in this report. Iceland topped the list with women there earning 85% of what men earn. And guess where Pakistan ended up. They were 148th and above Yemen. Women in Pakistan are earning only 55% of what men earn. Yes, it indeed is embarrassing that the poorest countries in the world like Chad ($919 per person a year) and Mali ($917 per person a year) have a better ranking (145 and 143 respectively) than Pakistan. This disappointing percentage of Pakistan has increased by only 1% since the 2006 report.

The most disappointing factor is that Pakistan is consistently the second-lowest in GGPG for the past five years. So no step has been taken to escalate the rank in the last few years.

According to a 2012 conducted study in the agricultural sector, female workers were earning only 170 rupees a day as compared to male workers earning 300 rupees a day. The women earned 32% in skilled agriculture which was less than half of men (67%).

Pakistan, which is still amongst at least 60 countries with fewer women population than men, constitutes only 24% of the female labor force which is three times lesser than men labor force (82.7%).

04. RIGHTS FOR LESBIANS

(Here I will try to focus only on the lesbians out of LGBTs to stick on the points I am raising in this blog to a certain length)

With the awareness of globalization and increase in liberalization, one cannot ignore the rights of people from a different sexual orientation. Finally, after decades, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled in favor of civil rights for the transgender citizens in 2009. And last year, the country’s parliament passed the Transgender Persons Act 2017 which established protection for transgender people.

Which indicates that there is hope for the homosexual community to get civil rights just like the transgender citizens. Because so far, the same-sex marriages are not permitted and the matter is not generally brought in discussion in fear of the moo-law fascism.

The country still strictly prohibits homosexuality. Forget about the rights of the lesbians, it is considered a crime by law and anyone involved in the carnal intercourse with the same gender are to be punished for at least two years and maximum ten years with a fine according to the article 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

It is quite weird to realize that PPC is actually inherited and renamed from the Indian Penal Code, an Anglo-Saxon law written by Lord Macaulay in the colonial era in 1860. Why Pakistan still follows an almost 120-year-old article 377? The amendment was made in A and B of article 377 but the article itself was not amended.   

Moving towards the globalization, the country is the least accepting the community of homosexuals and are hostile towards them. Homosexuality is still a taboo subject in Pakistan. There was a spark of controversy when the private news channel broke the news of two Pakistani girls tying the knot in the UK.

So what about the people in such minorities then? Either they live as compromised or settle down to a certain country where LGBT is tolerated to live with freedom. Speaking of which reminds me of a case of a lady from Karachi who moved to the UK because of the tormented years of her beatings and discrimination for her being a lesbian.

As per the 2013 survey report of the Pew Research Center, 87% Pakistanis rejected the recognition of homosexuals in the society. But four years later, ILGARIWI mutually conducted a global attitude survey under which 45% Pakistanis agreed that such people should enjoy the rights as straight people.

A very minor percentage of lesbians in Pakistan are not able to stand up for their rights. If the women marching on the streets or sharing support in the social media believes in women rights and freedom, then they should step further and speak about this specific minority. Let them live in peace and others live in their peace.

05. WOMEN IN OLD-AGE HOMES

I think the most haunting imagination of life has to be when you think about getting old. And when I say old, I mean when you cross over 65 or say 70 at least. And what if I add a further misery or a jingle of torture to send you to a center where people of same age live for God knows how long.

It is torture, no? Keeping in mind that you are old and not long enough is the remainder of life to live with a decline in health. And you expect that your young ones will take care of you but they rather prefer to drop you there.

Some actually are okay to end up there because they suffered enough by their own to decide to move there in peace which is also a tragic fate. Enough of haunting? A man in Pakistani society may survive but what about a woman? Her case is more sensitive.

Abdul Sattar Edhi once admitted that the number of old-age homes dramatically increased in Karachi alone which rose from six to ten centers between 2006 and 2010. A few of those centers were sheltering more than 150 people. Do read the stories of the then 67-year-old Fehmeeda and 84-year-old Darakhshan.

Let me clear a very important point here. On a few occasion, their young ones or the relatives are not at fault. Many of the old generations have to move welfare centers because there is no other solution to survive. The pensions at most of the sectors and the companies are not enough to maintain a healthy life. With age comes diseases and the expensive medical bills shape to become a will paper. Should I expect better public toilets especially facilitated for old-age people at all in Pakistan or at least in a few metro cities?

It is the duty of the state or the welfare organizations to raise the bar of building more centers with enough facilities to help them live a better life. At the same time, the women need to voice the awareness of taking the domestic responsibilities of protecting the rights of their old ones especially the women. Imagine the life of people living in rural areas or slums. Those female sweepers, cleaners, maids and servants who spent their life serving the others and stay in their extreme poverty. What are they when they get old? Some measures should be adopted to lead them towards a healthy life above the poverty line before they feel isolated and rejected.

06. VOICE FOR RAPE VICTIMS

Whenever we discuss the rape cases in Pakistan, the first victim who comes in the mind is Mukhtaran Mai, a villager from Meerwala who survived a gang rape ordered by the tribal clan in Muzaffargarh. She broke the headlines in the Pakistan media for some time and even hit the global media including BBC and Time Magazine.

The tragic popularity of Mai has now dimmed with the death of a 7-year-old girl from Kasur, Zainab Ansari, who was raped and murdered last year in January. And there are dozens of rape incidents which became seasonal headlines and disappeared. Many cases didn’t meet justice.

Kainat Soomro was 13 when she was kidnapped and gang-raped for four consecutive days. Her brother was murdered three years later when she voiced for justice. Her father was beaten with iron rods and the local tribunal determined her to be a Kari (the black female who loses the virginity outside marriage). She fought for her right for several more years.

The reason for highlighting a few is to bring awareness to this serious matter which is, unfortunately, happening for decades in this country especially in the rural areas. Can you ever believe that some village councils in Pakistan rules ‘revenge’ rape in some cases?

Most of the rape cases are registered from Punjab province where around 3000 rapes reached the police station in 2017. Almost the similar figures of cases were registered in 2016 too. If I only term crimes against the women instead of saying ‘rape’, 5660 such cases were registered across the country in the first 10 months of 2017.

That year, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported the lowest number of crimes by any province in the first half (202 including 72 rape cases). Balochistan had 354 cases in the first 10 months including four rape cases.

Sindh also has terrible stats. In 2016, there were 2817 cases registered about crimes against women which included 165 rapes and 13 gang-rapes. Next year, the new yearly concluded figures increased to 2934 cases out of which 156 were rape cases in Karachi and other parts, and 47 were gang-raped.

According to the 2017 Pakistan Human Rights Report from the US Department of State, the rapes were frequent but the prosecutions were rare. So imagine the fact that will disgust you that the abovementioned figures from the years 2016 and 2017 are only the cases which are registered to the police station. How many of those cases were then investigated? How many of those files were opened? How serious was the police department to eradicate or reduce the crime? When Zainab Ansari was lost and the case was reported to the authorities, they did nothing. In fact, the CCTV video footage was discovered by the family members when no response came from them.

I wonder such negligence has cost how many scores of lives in Pakistan. According to the Aurat Foundation in the same report (page 38), NGOs alleged the police that sometimes they abused or threatened the rape victims and demanded to drop the charges after receiving a bribe from suspected perpetrators. Some police demanded a bribe from the victims to register the case. According to the 2018 Pakistan Human Rights Report from the US Department of State, three Balochistan police officials were arrested for pressuring a rape victim to withdraw her allegations.

Yes, there were voices against the rape in the Aurat March but what about the rape victims? Who demanded justice for any rape victims? I may have missed some placards if there were but still not on a scale the participants of Aurat March should have.

07. PROTECTING WOMEN FROM ACID VIOLENCE

My final point of concern is about the women’s disfigurement by acid throwing mostly attempted by men. According to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) of Pakistan, there are up to 150 cases of acid throwing in Pakistan every year due to the domestic abuse. Some other possible reasons can be her ‘inappropriate’ dressing or rejecting the marriage proposal. Imagine, around 150 women in Pakistan are the unfortunate victims of acid attacks with the consequences of possibly permanent skin damage.

Speaking of which reminds me of the case. Almost seven years ago, Alex Rodriguez of Los Angeles Times covered an incident about a gang of four men throwing sulfuric acid on a 10-year-old Zaib Aslam and her mother Parveen Akhtar. One of the four men was recognized to be the ex-fiancé of Parveen’s older daughter.

The acid attacks on women in Pakistan came to global attention only when Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge directed the Academy Award-winning documentary ‘Saving Face‘ in 2012.

Naila Farhat was the first prominent name of this century to suffer the acid attack. At 13, Naila was punished by her teacher’s friend for refusing the proposal by throwing acid while coming back from school in 2003. Punishment to the culprit? 12-years imprisonment and 1.2 million fine by the sessions court. So when the culprit appealed in the High Court, he was released with the condition of paying the fine.

Due to Naila’s courage to take the matter to the Supreme Court and the efforts of ASF Pakistan in 2011, the parliament decided to pass the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill on acid violence. But the unfortunate part is that maintaining reliable data about the cases were not taken seriously by the federal and provincial governments and due to the reason, the number of cases is extremely low. Based on the monitoring of the media, 96 cases were recorded in 2012, 67 in 2013, and 84 in 2014.

In 2008, the New York Times covered the story of Shahnaz Bukhari, founder of the Progressive Women’s Association (PWA). This organization came to existence to help the female victims of social and domestic violence. In 1994, the PWA began to work on the acid and burn cases. Through this coverage, Bukhari has claimed that PWA has documented nearly 8000 acid attack cases during the period 1994 to 2008 only in Islamabad area. That is a huge jaw-dropping figure from none other than the capital.

The reason to write about all these acidic references is to emphasize that Pakistan badly suffers this type of violence. Throwing sulfuric acid on the body is a serious degree burn with much certainty of the skin to be never normalized or women not surviving the pain or committing suicide. And throwing for the most ridiculous reasons. Even if there are strong reasons, then this should not be the case. This is death before the real death.


The punishment of the last two points should be severe so that the crime rate drops somehow. Many laws have begun to shape in favor of women but there is still time for swift justice. I cannot imagine what and how most of the women especially in the rural areas have suffered in the 20th century.

In my opinion, the ideal government and nation are which advocates the liberty and religious, social, domestic and economic freedom of a woman. I believe that the woman should enjoy her rights and must be served/facilitated with her just demands.

Abdul Sattar Edhi once said that Humanity is the biggest religion. Indeed it is humanity which all the religions emphasize on by different teachings and principles. There has to be no existing religion which does not focus on the importance and rights of the women.

(NOTE: The pictures used in this blog are taken from The News article and belongs to Bismah Mughal).

Concluding my blog with the hope that people in Pakistan understand the significance of the critical issues and raise awareness. Sharing is caring.

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#MeToo And Meesha-Ali Scandal

I don’t follow what is happening in the world. Why? Because the happening is depressing and same old story repeats again and again. So why should I take the interest? Why should I bring enthusiasm when it is going to do nothing but deteriorate your health.

In 2018, an individual cannot have a positive mindset because of this reason, because of the existence of the system which doesn’t help you to live your own life at all and if he/she compromises and tries to bring a positive outcome or inspire others with a better suggestion, or present a better theory and opinion, then there is a ranting and hooting race of fellow humans who will behave as betrayed and offended and curse you without understanding your point.

Forget the value of the humans who dropped words of wisdom from their mouth to their disgust by mistake, I have seen commentators mocking and insulting your country, your religion, your prophets, your entire family and ancestors (to whom you may have never met), just because he/she didn’t agree with you. Aye, that is how indisposed the world has become.

So I am not a newspaper geezer but that source of alarming the happening is faster on the social media. Neither can I avoid social media nor can I keep my eyes away from the news. So how things are rolled up nowadays? Forget about the world authorities and supreme powers playing a Game of Thrones every day, we normal earthlings are also getting emotionally corrupted.

For some decades, sincerity and morality from the emotional aspects of human relations were diminishing at a vast speed thanks to the scientific advancements and inventions which were supposed to help the human race at all, but now we are the criminals of our own body. No not masturbation, readers! This is about a lot of things. For example, developing a sexual interest in the children or taking the matters of human sexes in the debate.

Man versus Woman, why? Blaming and criticizing their sexes, why? Both were supposed to cooperate each other. Both were supposed to enjoy each other’s company. Why the hatred? Are we in position to speak on the blame games? If we are, then will we humans justify the case?

A wave of feminism globally rose with a ‘Me Too‘ slogan and suddenly the MAN became a disease, a plague. And thanks to Harvey Weinstein, who helped this wave become a tsunami. But, with time, has feminism conveyed the message and shaped into their own betterment within the same society where this cruel MAN is existing? What is the science or theory of feminism on which a girl or a woman constructs her ideology or life?

Recently, a topic in Pakistan rose in the name of sexual harassment among the celebrities. On the 19th of April, Meesha Shafi announced on the social media that she has been sexually harassed by her colleague, Ali Zafar. With the announcement, Meesha hash-tagged Me Too, confirming that a woman has been abused by a man. Fair enough, that is one side of the story.

A few hours later, Ali Zafar responded on the social media by denying all the claims lodged against him. As expected, man and woman from all over the world responded with many different opinions. Some favoured Meesha, some Ali. Some blamed to both or any of the two while some criticized the urban life and liberty, and advised to follow Islamic teachings.

What ridiculed the issue lies in the state of the event occurred between the two. Many of us passed their opinions. Through this blog, let me try to speak/write some points related to this event because I am also free to pass my opinion.

A) The first thing we should understand in such a sensitive case is to recognize the fact that you and I know nothing at all what exactly happened between the two. So before any of us begin writing our opinion, we should not be judgmental on any of the two’s case. People tell their side of the story and we are nothing to them. So we don’t know if what they say on the social MEDIA is even half lie or true. Meesha says Ali harassed her but he denies. So between these statements, especially in the case of sexual harassments, we have to be careful because we are absolutely not aware. We have to be choosy in our literature while passing our opinion. Unless one in a thousand is the witness of such incident or a close friend or associate in a circle has more capacity to fill the accurate words or use authentic explanation about the issue.

B) I am not a woman but I realize the sensitivity of the subject she faced if it is true. Now, as a viewer, when I read Meesha’s message on the social media, the first thing I hope is that may Lord be with her IF she has been harassed but but but and another but, if she is harassed then why is she announcing to the world? If she has become a victim of sexual harassment, then knock the doors of the court of justice and file a case against the culprit. (I was writing soon after the posting of both the tweets). When you need justice, you do not announce to the world unless you really are stuck in some remote or highly restricted area that the authority doesn’t want to move you or raise your voice. But Meesha is a very famous celebrity and she is free to take action on a man in the court. Reaching to the social media will not help to solve the case but will boil the topic with no deserving conclusions. Sexes will part and take sides. Both men and women would either become joke taking on each other or will involve themselves in a meaningless argument wasting each other’s time. Most of the women will listen to Meesha’s message and shoulder her while men will deny like Ali as if the claims were lodged against him, not Ali. Both will pass jokes on each other, mock their existence, insult them of their being man or woman.

C) Now here is a turbulence of the situation where the denial of an assumed theory falters with the change of mind. The classes of urban life and the liberty of an individual’s mind and body are all fluctuating due to a dramatic turn. Sometimes it is the man whose strength and desire melts a woman, and sometimes it is the woman who diverges the world for a delusion or a false hope making her merry for a moment she spends with a man. Through the sensitive portions of the emotional bridges and ridges, both the sexes collapse and in confusion, the connection between the two damages in contusion. Either the man is no more willing to take a step ahead and accept the consequences or the woman is backing out and not letting herself sink into the ocean. And in both cases, the feeling of betrayal awakes.

The life of a celebrity around the world is pretty rich and broad in few cases. People freely accept each other’s company and there are different levels of acceptance towards your limits in such class. Some classes are so open, free and careless that man and woman here may sleep together and indulge in intercourse. And I am not talking the possibility of this occurrence between Meesha and Ali. I am just speaking generally that in a kind of global village or a social community you recognize your existence, you should also recognize and know your limits.

If any of the two were advancing their next move through their looks or giving a couple of secs focusing your retina on his/her lips, it is pretty obvious then. And if in the eleventh hour, any of the two decides to walk out then that is too embarrassing. Again, this is not about Meesha and Ali because I am not aware what happened between the two. This is just a general perception about a free society where men and women accept things.

D) What if and what if not? In both the cases, one of the names will fade, one of the careers will destroy, and one of the reputations will damage. Both have worked on international platforms and they are well-known figures. In personal life, both are married with two children.

The leaked video of the jamming session between Meesha and Ali shows nothing as both were at some distance. Not only this, Ali’s two ladies in his troupe, Aqsa Ali and Kanza Munir have expressed their support to him. Despite the fact that both are women, Aqsa and Kanza chose to defend Ali instead of Meesha which is pretty critical in a sexual harassment case.

If Ali is proven guilty of harassing her, Pakistan has their own version of Harvey Weinstein for a moment then. All male artists are on red alert. Many stories and claims will be leaking in near future. A very aggressive nation like Pakistan have already lost tolerance after the Zainab case and a high-profile name like Ali Zafar will become an ideal prisoner one would really like to hang.

But what if Ali is clean? What if what Meesha announced to the world was all lie? The consequences of the false case are very ravaging. If the court concludes the case in favour of Ali, then the biggest damage of the case will be the use of #MeToo, disrespecting a movement which globally helped the woman to make her voice recognize and significant. The global voice raised by the women to unite against the inequality and abuse of a man over a woman will lose the strength of delivering a powerful message. The slogan will be then corrupted. This will prove that the woman is intentionally using the power for a wrong reason and bringing bad to the objective because she knows that such statement (false or true) will lit a hellfire in the society, and due to misleading, most of the women in anger will beat him on the street.

If Meesha is wrong, then she will be brainwashing and manipulating millions of women globally. If Meesha is wrong, then the men in power will take the advantage of the lie and deceit. He will believe that the women who were globally raising their voice may also be lying about harassment in the past. Most of the men will think that speaking false about the man or making him culprit was and is in their nature.

Because this is what happens. When you have the power, there is a tremendous responsibility not to betray the power and the people. Because once the trust and reliability are damaged, they cannot be fixed. You can break someone’s heart in seconds but it will take years to fix, and some cases are infinite in time. The leader will be trusted by his/her followers but if the leader is found corrupted, those will curse him/her and face the consequences.    

And this is what the problem is. Look at Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. She won two Academy Awards for her documentaries based on honour killings and acid attacks on women but she thinks sending friendship request on the social media is a harassment. How on earth is this a harassment?

I am fully aware of this power called Feminism. But before playing this card, people should know the primary objective of Feminism? Feminism, in my opinion, is advocating woman’s basic rights when it comes to justice and equality. Correct me if I am wrong. By this definition, feminism applies in all the cases where the rights of woman are not implemented or if the woman has been physically abused in form of rape, sexual harassment, body-shaming, etc. Feminism also applies to woman’s rights over employment and electoral voting. If your agenda or objective is accurate and precise, everyone will be in favour of your movement. I support the word feminism and the slogan of hashtagged Me Too by the authentic definition and objective of feminism. But in the name of this movement, if the women are intentionally damaging the name and its objective, we will see a tremendous collapse of the society.

I hope this Meesha-Ali chapter ends soon. May the case rest with Meesha and Ali meeting their deserving fate and justice.