Feminists’ March To The Day We All Are Treated Equally By The Law And The Society
If we study the history of woman and her contributions to the human society, we will realise that the role of woman in the evolution of society has been far bigger than that of the man. But this struggle has largely been ignored. However, the struggle and movements of women for their basic rights in the west have encouraged the women around the world to stand up for their rights and equality.
As a German feminist put it: The history and books of history are wrong about me and they have conveyed a wrong image of woman because this image in the books of history has been portrayed by men and there is no space for women in this framework of history.
The exploitation of women goes back to the era when there was no concept of society and agriculture and people used to move from place to place for their survival. At that time, whenever two or more tribes developed a conflict with each other over some issue they would resolve it by exchanging women with each other.
If we study the era of Mughal dynasty, we come across some stunning facts about the exploitation of women.
For example, Zaheeruddin Babur was in Samarqand and his arch rival Shebaani Khan had deployed his army around the city so that Babur couldn’t find a way out. When Babur realised that there was no way out, he handed his sister Khanzada Begum over to Shebaani Khan and escaped from Samarqand.
Rajput clans in India had the tradition that their women would burn themselves alive when their husbands lost the war, in order to save their ‘honour’.
History has seen women like Razia Sultana and Chand BiBi in India, “Elizabeth” in England, and Teresa in Austria who played a very important role in the histories of their respective countries but they were always criticised by their contemporaries who held them responsible for all the flaws in the political system.
Pakistani historian Mubarak Ali says, “It was woman who put this animal in the shape of man on the right track”.
When the church was extremely powerful in Europe and had control over all the administrative activities of the state, the status of woman was completely subservient.
According to a Bishop “woman should serve the man silently and she does not need to read or write, the main duty of woman is to produce more and more children”. St. Paul, the spiritual leader of Christianity, had advised women not to speak among men and always keep their heads and faces covered. History reveals that no other institution has exploited the woman more than the church.
Like all the other religions and communities, the woman in Muslim community was also never allowed to get education, equal rights and take part in the mainstream politics. Woman was forced for early age marriage, which is not only her exploitation but also a sin, even according to Islam.
But the things are changing now with urbanization expanding and women demanding their due rights.
In early 1960s Feminism took root in the US and under this movement women stood up for equal rights in society. This was the movement which gave women the courage to speak for their rights. Beside many other demands, this movement asked the governments around the world to provide voting rights to women and equal chances in every field of life.
As these movements grew in momentum, in 1975 UN announced 8 March to be celebrated every year as International Women’s Day.
Like any other country, the women of Pakistan have struggled a lot demanding equal rights. Feminism in Pakistan took root during Zia era when in 1981 women for the first time in the history of Pakistan launched protests against the anti-women Zia regime.
We have come a long way since the anti-Zia protests and women are coming forward now in all walks of life. The impact of this movement can be seen in the progressive policymaking as well as legislation enacted through the years, specifically in Sindh where “Child Marriage Restrain Act” was passed in 2014, increasing the minimum age for marriage to 18 years. “Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act” was passed in Sindh and Blochistan in 2010. Punjab assembly passed the “Protection of Women against Violence Act” in 2016.
Despite these legislations, the number of acid attacks and honor killings has increased over the years. There are huge loopholes still in the law as well in the implementation of the law and unless all the forms of misogyny are rooted out, and until all the women, men and transgender people can enjoy compete equality before law, this struggle for equal rights will continue.
Author: Ali Mansoor
source: Naya Daur