Pardon me for being so blunt, but I’m not wrong. When you live in a country in which 80 per cent of the women are subjected to domestic abuse, then one can do nothing but point his or her finger at the collective psyche of the nation, within which misogynist ideas are so profoundly ingrained. There’s nothing wrong with particular individuals but something is terribly awry with us as a whole.
If there’s one thing Mukhtaran Mai’s struggle has taught us, it is that this nation abhors rape victims more than it despises rapists. Our society, in lieu of teaching its men not to rape, focuses on telling women not to get raped. The onus is upon the woman to make sure she doesn’t fall prey to men’s lust by restricting her own freedom of movement and dressing like a nun.
If she ever gets raped, our sanctimonious society shall attack her like wolves.
It will torment her with snide comments like:
“Oh, she brought it on herself! The way she smiles in the company of strange men.. and those revealing sleeveless dresses she wears in public. Tsk tsk…”
This brings me to SlutWalk, a movement that appears to be gaining momentum in the West. In an uber-conservative society like ours, the full purpose of SlutWalk might seem impractical but this new wave of feminism raises some excellent points about the discrepancy concerning the way sexuality is viewed among men and women.
Among men, sexuality is widely celebrated, even if it’s ‘sotto voce.’ A sexually attractive male is honoured with terms like “stud” and “hero,” while a woman open about her sexuality is booed and looked upon with utter contempt.
For a boy, getting a pretty girl to fall for him is a “conquest.”
For a girl, the same would earn her the title of a “slut”.
This is precisely the kind of misogynistic attitude that women like Mukhtaran Mai have to face in their battles for justice. We, as a nation, are so hopelessly fixated on the stereotypical portrait of the Pakistani woman as a shy, insecure, dupatta-clad person cooking rotis in the kitchen, that any other version of her leaves us petrified.
Pakistan hates women. In fact, we are the third-worst country in the world for a female to be born in. It is the bitter pill of truth we must all swallow, because if we are to seek rehabilitation, the first step is to stop living in denial.