Thursday 18 November 2021

Patriarchy, give me my country back

 


I was four years old when it first happened. A middle-aged man, who ran a small departmental store in the Dhaka neighbourhood I lived in, was babysitting me while my mother went out to fetch some notes from her university. It was difficult raising a child all on her own, and my single mother was grateful that she could leave me in safe company.

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor opposite my babysitter when he pulled me close to his body and put his tongue down my mouth. At first, I was fascinated—I had seen adults kiss each other in tv shows and films. Children, at that age, are curious about the liberties that adulthood offers. But soon after, a dirty feeling came over me. My mouth froze. He attempted to force his tongue on me a few more times before I pulled away and rushed to the bathroom. I had a rabid compulsion to clean my mouth; I brushed my teeth, again and again, hoping to remove his traces so that my mother would never know, and I could pretend it never happened.

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Two years later, a security guard at the apartment complex we shared with my aunt groped my chest and motioned that he would put his "thing" inside me. I thought I should stay quiet, because I was ashamed, but the constant touch from him and the resulting pain became so unbearable that I rushed to my mother as she was boarding a rickshaw to go to the supermarket. "He's hurting me," I told her. She looked at me in surprise. Hurting? How? Where? I eventually revealed all the details to her, and he was dismissed shortly after.

I used to be a very talkative child, but with every experience of physical violation, I grew quieter, more watchful of my words, more concerned about what I could talk about to anyone.

When I was seven, I realised that my parents had separated because my father would physically abuse my mother, the floor frequently turning bloody.

When I was eight, a law enforcement officer asked my mother to sleep with him. She refused and was sanctioned.

When I was nine, a male relative lay down beside me while I was resting and put his arms around my waist. He turned me around, and there it was, again, a foreign tongue inside my mouth, unwelcome, unwanted. I flinched and immediately left the room.

When I was eleven, construction workers next door would make untoward gestures every time I went to the veranda, and I eventually completely stopped going outside.

When I was 13, I was severely bullied about my weight and the lack of feminine curves—disparaged for not meeting societal beauty standards.

When I was 14, a teenage crush of mine spread stories about being physically intimate with me, and my classmates hurled numerous insults my way while somehow, in their eyes, he was now "cooler."

When I was 15, my friend's boyfriend locked the room behind us and attempted to pinch my private parts, but I immediately unlocked the door and left the room.

When I was 16, my male cousin confessed that his peers could not see their female counterparts as anything more than sex objects.

When I was 17, a man older than my father proposed a sexual relationship with me in exchange for expensive gifts and financial security.

When I was 18, my school's principal, upon my insistence on wearing shorts while playing sports, gawked at me and said, "What will I do if one of the security guards rapes you?"

When I was 19, I left Bangladesh, and I have not returned since.

Begum Rokeya, the prominent feminist thinker and social reformer, once dreamt of a world led by women in her famous short story "Sultana's Dream." Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, wrote, "I sing the song of equality; in my view, there is no disparity between man and woman." Why, then, according to Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, were there 2,711 incidents of violence against women and children, including rape, between January and October in 2020?

Why, according to a 2015 survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), did more than 70 percent of married women or girls face intimate partner abuse, including physical violence? Why indeed, according to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), were at least 235 women murdered by their husbands or members of his family in the first nine months of 2020? How, in the country of Begum Rokeya, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Sufia Kamal, can rape be justified because of what a woman is wearing?

The consequences of patriarchy are a pervasive reality in Bangladesh. According to a 2018 study by Brac, 94 percent of Bangladeshi women report being sexually harassed while commuting via public transport. Poor women, including those from rural areas, face multiple forms of oppression, including lack of access to quality education and unpaid productive work. Women from religious minorities continue to be persecuted for their beliefs. As part of a community facing landlessness issues and a lack of civil rights, non-Bengali indigenous women in particular face further challenges at the intersection of indigeneity, gender, and food insecurity. Gender-variant people are not spared from these challenges either: hijra people are marginalised in social and economic spheres. In 2015, they were denied government jobs because they "failed" a genitalia-based medical examination.

Despite my personal experiences and the grim statistics on gendered oppression in Bangladesh, I have begun to speak up. I am fortunate to have had the opportunities to study around the world and grow as a person, but I still feel the wound of being a second-class citizen in my own country. I want to reclaim my home. I ask the women reading this article, what about you? 

Link

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Domestic violence against Women in Pakistan

 


Despite strict laws and social awareness, domestic violence is prevalent in Pakistan at an alarming rate. Almost one in three Pakistani women report facing domestic physical violence by partners, in-laws, and in some circumstances by their brothers and parents. The informal estimates are much higher. Such violence, when widespread in society, is also normalized. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Statistics, more than half of the women respondents in one province believe that it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife under certain circumstances; and such sentiments also prevail in the rest of the country. According to media reports, more than 51,241 cases of violence against women’ were reported between January 2018 and October 2020.

According to a survey conducted on 23 September 2018, by Thomson Reuter Corporation, Pakistan was ranked as the sixth most dangerous nation on the planet for women. The predominant power structure in Pakistan is patriarchy, in which the male figure is in control of all affairs, public and private, thus assuming a dominant position. Women have been excluding from settling on choices and are considered socially and financially dependent on men. Women have to face discrimination and violence daily due to the cultural and religious norms that Pakistani society embraces.

About 70 to 90 percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence. Domestic violence perpetrated upon a spouse can precede the mistreatment of children; this can, in turn, leave a long-term emotional and psychological impact such as behavioral disturbances, with the child replicating the abuse. Women who have experienced domestic violence or abuse are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a range of mental health conditions including, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Domestic violence and oppression of women, especially at home, is unacceptable, and needs to be treated as such.

Recently, a heart-wrenching video of a rebellious young man beating his mother went viral. Similarly, painful videos of women’s abuse have also surfaced in recent times. A recent case was of Sadaf Zahra, a married woman whose body founded hanging from the ceiling fan by a bedsheet tied around her neck and a ladder lying close by. The deceased’s friend has held her friend’s husband responsible for her death. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of women across the country face the same plight but have not been able to lift their voices.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Pakistan witnessed regression of women’s rights laws, which have been amending to reflect this discrimination. In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been some success in passing policies to prevent practices such as early-age marriages, honour killings, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape. Pressure needs to be maintained upon the central and provincial governments to tackle domestic violence and treat it as a priority; this is a problem that impacts society as a whole. As part of a dialogue recently organized by the KP office of UN Women and the KP’s EVAW Alliance, the scholars have signed a declaration condemning gender-based violence and vowing to spread awareness in their relevant communities to put an end to the practice. The increased focus of religious sermons on ending violence against women can make a notable difference over time.

The time is right to act on this issue in Pakistan. Society, too, needs to step up for its women. Regardless of the introduction of pro-women laws that criminalize domestic abuse, the barriers to ensuring justice to the victims are too many. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation and establishing helplines do not mean that the state has fulfilled its responsibilities regarding women’s protection. The law also needs further improvements and clarity in its language. It is the responsibility of the state to give protection to its citizens in public and private spaces. There is no way the state could allow its citizens to be subjected to abuse just because it takes place in a personal setting. If we do not address violence against women and girls, sustainable growth will remain elusive.
Successive governments have also taken steps to put a stop to the exuberant women abuse. The Constitution of Pakistan ensures women’s security against any form of violence in its Articles 3 and 11. Besides, the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012, the National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women (NPDEW) 2002, and the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWVA) 2016 are among the measures adopted to protect women from domestic violence in the last decade. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman tabled the Domestic violence Bill on the floor of the Senate for debate, in July 2020. Under the bill, offenders were to be punished by domestic violence which was criminalized. In recent times Shireen Mazari, the Human Rights Minister in the PTI government, started a helpline to enable women and children to report instances of domestic violence.

The time is right to act on this issue in Pakistan. Society, too, needs to step up for its women. Regardless of the introduction of pro-women laws that criminalize domestic abuse, the barriers to ensuring justice to the victims are too many. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation and establishing helplines do not mean that the state has fulfilled its responsibilities regarding women’s protection. The law also needs further improvements and clarity in its language. It is the responsibility of the state to give protection to its citizens in public and private spaces. There is no way the state could allow its citizens to be subjected to abuse just because it takes place in a personal setting. If we do not address violence against women and girls, sustainable growth will remain elusive.

Link

Thursday 11 November 2021

To the broken hearted.....





Adam عليه السلام needed Hawa (Eve) عليه السلام to enjoy living in the Garden
- The need for love and intimacy is not codependency
Maryam’s عليه السلام greatest honor was being the mother of Esa عليه السلام
- Being a single mother is not a disgrace
Lut’s (Lot) عليه السلام wife didn’t listen to his instructions
- Even great partners can be betrayed by their spouses
Asiyah was killed by her husband, Pharoah
- Your abusive partner is not your fault
Ayyub عليه السلام battled sickness and repeated trials
- Chronic illness is nothing to be ashamed of
Nuh’s عليه السلام own son rejected him
- Effective parenting doesn’t guarantee successful children
Musa عليه السلام had to flee his homeland in pursuit of safety
- You can be a refugee or migrant and build a new home
Ibrahim’s عليه السلام father threatened to kill him
- You can overcome a bad childhood and oppressive parents
Zakariya عليه السلام struggled to have a child
- Infertility isn’t a sign that God is displeased with you
Yusuf عليه السلام was put in prison for something he didn’t do
- Sometimes innocent people are unjustly imprisoned
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was an orphan, a widower, and had to grieve the loss of his own children
- The best of mankind experienced these trials too
In your broken heartedness, remember that you are not alone
"Even if you have no one, you are in the care of ALLAH"


- Sister Naimah A
(From her book - In the belly of the whale)

 


Tuesday 9 November 2021

O Allah, compensate me for my hardship and replace it with something which is better.

 

When Umm Salamah lost her husband, one of the early converts to Islam and a most beloved companion, she mourned him bitterly.
But she turned to Allah with patience (sabr) and Dua:


“Allahuma ajirni fi museebati wakhlifli khayran minha - O Allah, compensate me for my hardship and replace it with something which is better.”
Even as she was saying the Dua she thought “Who could be better than Abu Salamah?”
The Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ  was the man better than Abu Salamah, and Allah blessed her with marriage to the noble Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ .


No matter what you’ve lost in this world, Allah can ALWAYS substitute it with something better.
During tough times do your best to envision a positive future and never give up on hope and good expectations of Allah. 


Hope is more valuable than we give it credit.
Hope remembers all the times in the past that you made it through.
Hope teams up with faith and believes the impossible.
Make dua and forget and know that Allah never forgets. When Allah empties our hands it's only to fill it with something greater, better and eternal. 


🤲 May Allah bless us with the best of deen, duniya and akhira - Allahumma ameen. 

From IdealMuslimah

Thursday 4 November 2021

A group of women from the tribe of Ghifar approached the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

 


A group of women from the tribe of Ghifar approached the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to seek his permission to tend to the wounded during the battle of Khaybar. The Prophet ﷺ welcomed their request, giving them permission, stating, “By the blessings of God.”


He ﷺdidn’t simply say okay dismissively. He didn’t say, “No. This isn’t for women.” Or, “Why are you trying to with men?” Instead, he specifically gave them the blessings of God.
With this group of women was a young girl named Umayyah bint Qays. She shares with us her own part of the story: 


“Then we set out with him. I was a young girl. He made me sit on his she-camel behind the luggage. I saw the bag had got traces of blood from me. It was the first time I had a period. Then I sat forward on the camel [to hide it] and I was embarrassed. 


“When the Messenger of God ﷺ saw what happened to me and the traces of blood, he said, “Perhaps you have had menstrual bleeding?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Attend to yourself. Then, take a container of water, then put salt in it, then wash the affected part of the bag, then come back.” I did so.
“When God conquered Khaybar for us, the Prophetﷺ took this necklace that you see on my neck and gave it to me and put it on my neck with his own hand. By God it will never be parted from me.’
“She wore the necklace her entire life and stipulated that she should be buried with it.”
When the Prophet ﷺ saw her blood, he did not embarrass her. He ﷺ did not turn away in disgust or shock. He ﷺ didn’t order her to leave his presence now that she was an accountable young woman. Or hastily walk away in silence, and then avoid her for the rest of her life.


Instead, he ﷺ taught her the fiqh of purification in that moment. He ﷺ acknowledged her literally going through puberty in front of him ﷺ with gentle humility and support. He ﷺ gave her a necklace, which he ﷺ personally placed on her with his blessed hands, and helped her feel honored and special in that moment. He ﷺ didn’t tear her down emotionally; his ﷺ response built her up.
I’ve heard many period stories where women speak of incredible embarrassment in the moment but can laugh it off 10-15 years later. But I’ve never heard a story in which a woman says she felt closer to God because of what was a humiliating moment of her life as a young person.


The way he ﷺ responded not only impacted this young companion’s sense of self, her self worth, her self esteem- but also, her relationship with Islam. He did this while leading a military expedition! As the head of state! Yet he ﷺ took time to sit and make a little girl at a critical crux of her life feel seen.
The Prophetﷺ mentored people in ways they felt nurtured, cherished, and critical for the community. How do you think that impacted the way they felt about their faith?
How would it impact ours if we did the same? 


(Hadith reference: Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqaat viii.293 as mentioned in Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars of Islam by Dr.Akram Nadwi)
- Ustadha Maryam Amir