I see all these posts on my Facebook about Hilary Clinton fighting for feminism and empowering girls and I wonder when will Pakistan actually start working on such goals and agendas.
But then I laugh.
Our country doesn’t give a shite about women.
And since we are the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan, we really don’t care about our women.
I wish I could say otherwise but I have never really read anything in Islam that may have made me think that it believes in empowering women. Is it just Islam though? Or is it other religions as well? Is a woman only that- a being made out of a man’s ribs?
Is it my religion? Or is it your religion too? Or is it the society? Or is it just the way it is?
We don’t bury our girls at birth. No, now we have grown way out of such barbaric practices.
We raise them as captives, imprisoned in a box. And they grow up only to break out of one box and to enter into another. We may not treat them like slaves, our fathers don’t always beat us with a stick or induce any physical harm, but the way we raise our girls isn’t fair either. We teach them to be good wives and excellent mothers because after all, women are natural nurturers. We don’t teach them to dream. We don’t teach them to be extraordinary. We don’t teach them to be kind, compassionate and to be good humans, above anything else.
We keep our women in cocoons. Bloody cocoons that really serve no purpose. We think we are sheltering our little girls by restricting them from leaving their households or controlling their lives. But no, this isn’t sheltering.
In fact, you can’t really shelter anyone from the hardships of life. Everyone needs to feel love, loss, sadness, happiness on their own terms and need to experience them for themselves. You don’t live their lives for them. You teach them to stay strong, to fight and face those hurdles right on.
I was eighteen when I started working at a hotel. This was too unusual as a) in Pakistan not a lot of girls work at the age that I started working at and b) a hotel is considered a negative environment.
People might have thought I’m dumb because I didn’t know how to talk or what to do. There was a time in Lahore when I wasn’t allowed to step out or go out on my own. I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys on my cellphone. I wasn’t allowed to go out on dates or out with my friends. All I knew was within the walls of my home, where I was safe. I look back and I think that girl couldn’t have dreamed of working at a hotel. Ever.
And I’m not saying going on dates is necessary but things like that, small things, like going out on your own to the bank or to board a plane or living on your own, they do really make a difference. Experience is the best teacher, nay?
And I needed all those things. I needed to step out in the real world and realize that nothing is all hunky dory. That people are liars and cheaters and yes, men will hurt you but there are those who will love you deeply. I needed to have all these experiences for myself and I never would have had them if I had stayed in a box.
I see these young beautiful girls who have so much potential settling for less. Settling for a house, a husband who doesn’t really get her and lots of babies. But she settles because she doesn’t know her potential. No one told her. And society and parents and relatives would go crazy if she rejected a proposal like that.
It breaks my heart because it’s such a common thing in Pakistan and I don’t think we will ever put a stop to this.
It’s a terrible thing to say but if I were to stay in Pakistan all my life, I would wish I don’t give birth to a girl. Because I’m scared I would be just like all the other people I had around me, when I was young. And maybe I too would become a part of the institution that is obsessed with “cocooning” women.
Isn’t teaching them to face hurdles better than keeping them locked up? Why don’t we teach our girls to be tough? To stand up and fight for their rights? Why don’t teach them values other than growing up to be excellent wives and mothers? Why can’t we just let them have their own experience with love/sadness/happiness? Why can’t we just let them go?