Education will not end wife beating, Pakistan needs a cultural shift

Published: January 7, 2014

In Pakistan, it is said that 80% of the women suffer violence of varying degrees in their homes and the matter persists primarily because the society condones and defends it either directly or indirectly.

Domestic violence – a truly horrific term, to which only its victims can truly relate, is another one of the many plagues Pakistan suffers from.

Honestly, I had never thought much about it. I knew what it meant and I knew it existed but that was the extent of my thoughts on the matter, probably because I have never experienced or witnessed it and so I could not relate to it. Or probably because, like so many of us, the bubble of my privileged social setup never gave me a window into this terrifying reality that engulfs many women.

But the biggest myth that I believed up until recently was that domestic violence is something that is born out of poverty and illiteracy and therefore only exists in remote villages and uneducated families where people don’t know any better. This myth was shattered when I spoke to a certain someone – a girl of about my age, highly educated, quite well-off, belonging to the same social class as myself, and yet often beaten up by her spouse.

It was a shock for me, after all it brought into question the naive understanding I had of this practice. And that’s when the obvious hit me.

How could domestic violence and education have any direct relation?

It’s not like our schools teach us how to deal with any battering that may or may not occur. I now believe it is in fact a set of social and cultural sanctions in Pakistan that lead to domestic violence. A certain mindset is passed down generations by both the transgressors as well as the victims of this kind of abuse.

In Pakistan, it is said that 80% of the women suffer violence of varying degrees in their homes and the matter persists primarily because society condones and defends it either directly or indirectly. It is a learned behaviour in Pakistani society, absorbed into our lifestyle through generations following the same pattern.

Young girls see their mothers going through the same treatment and unknowingly adapt to the system. This does not imply that they approve of it but they accept it as something that is not open to debate or alteration. Girls come to identify their mothers as the victims of aggression and expect similar fates for themselves when they grow up with no control over what happens to them.

Domestic violence is normalised within the families via two major forces: the patriarchal set-up where men enjoy unlimited and unquestionable authority, and rigid gender roles that are responsible for stringent control over women’s actions.

Pakistani society is a male-dominated one where power and control is central to men and where women have a normative and traditional responsibility to obey their men at all costs. Unfortunately, education often does little to break this age-old way of thinking that still exists in many families, even if implicitly.

Women, from a very early age are instilled with tolerance and acceptance of the fact that their lives are completely controlled by men in all spheres of their lives and that they are not to question that system. What is domination by fathers, uncles and brothers later must transform into blind subjugation to the commands of the husband.

In order to lend strength to the patriarchal system, women are taught to be obedient, docile and placid whereas men are equated with authoritarian control and violence. In such a framework, violence and assault against wives is naturalised and women are moulded into the character-description of domestic violence.

Through this justification of domestic abuse by using gender roles, women are tutored throughout their lives to behave in ways that complement the power structure and therefore they consent to their own subordination. They come to accept beatings inflicted on them as just another male ‘gender trait’ enforced on them by ‘destiny’. Often, women try to explain their position by claiming that,

‘It is in the nature of men to resort to violence and women should be understanding and patient’.

Moreover women who endeavour to stand up against this system are labelled and stigmatised — called ‘loose’, ‘rebellious’, ‘disrespectful’ — this impeding their struggle. Their own parents and even the police deem them as the wrong ones to complain about their husbands: the supposedly hardworking husbands who support the family and resort to violence either due to stress or due to inability of their women to fulfil their responsibilities. In the end, even women who resist gradually come to accept that protesting against domestic violence is an appalling or futile act to commit.

The cultural interpretation of the institution of marriage may also be largely to blame for the acceptance of this social evil.

It is a general belief, that marriage is for life and must be preserved at all costs. Therefore it becomes culturally unfeasible to escape a marriage and this inflexibility affords obligation to remain tolerant of conflict or assault. Furthermore, wives are considered responsible for the marriage outcome and pressure to conform to a successful marriage forces her to be forbearing, even in the face of adversity.

Our society views divorce or separation with scorn, especially if it is initiated by a woman. It therefore becomes highly crucial to uphold the family and the marriage and this leaves no option for suffering women. They must stay silent about their ordeals and accept them as a part of life. As they absorb the idea into their marriages, they tacitly consent to beatings and violence.

Religious connotations are also applied to justify wife thrashings. A lot of men as well as women believe that it is un-Islamic to rebel against a husband and his will as it implies the violation of the principle of female modesty. Patience and humility is what the religion teaches and according to some people these principles only apply to the women. Speaking or acting against the husband or going to the police is widely labeled to be anti-religion.

Furthermore, a particular verse is widely misinterpreted to believe that Islam has permitted husbands to beat up their wives if they do not obey orders. This verse is construed to entail that it is the religious duty of women to blindly comply with the demands of their husbands and accept their punishment. Alternative verses underscoring the equality of relationship between the spouses and emphasising on the good treatment of wives are conveniently ignored.

Many still argue that with better education, socio-economic development and awareness, these women would be able to wake up to their condition and change will come. While this does stand probable more often than not, the fact remains that even education and greater resources cannot deter family expectations and age-old male-centred beliefs.

Unless the workings of our society are modified, the custom of wife beating will continue.

In order to bring about change and to liberate our women from the malevolent convention of wife beating, it is imperative to bring about a shift in popular opinion, social norms and the cultural beliefs.

It is vital that we change the mindset of people so that they accept and become conscious of the immorality and injustice of wife beating and not justify it or condone it for any reason. Only then can our women gain control over their lives, use education to enhance their status and identity, and break the shackles of male domination and exploitation.

Mehreen Ovais

Mehreen Ovais

A graduate from the Manchester Business School with an MSc Marketing degree, she is currently working in Geneva, Switzerland and is passionately engaged in writing about a whole host of varying issues. She tweets as @mehreenovais (twitter.com/mehreenovais)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sami

    Your figure of 80 percent is absolutely false. Stop lying and exaggeration about this. It is now becoming a trend of some Opportunistic Pakistanis to Bash Pakistan by overly exaggerated figures and then claiming accolades from Europe for so called bravery.
    In my family and all of my friends around me i never heard any domestic abuse and wife beating. I belong from a small village in Punjab but still in my family this instance never happened.
    We Pakistanis love our Women and respect them. We respect them as our mothers, sisters, wives and in professional roles as well. Kindly in order to impress the West dont try to generalize our society. There may be some instances but in general we dont have such Culture and stop this generalization for God’s sake.Recommend

  • U.M Sadiq

    Her spouses parents(Especially the mother) were probably uneducated then.
    Or perhaps they just spoiled the brat.

    What Pakistan needs is tougher laws to ensure that wives can escape such a situation with compulsory monetary support from her Ex. Till the time she remarries. The monetary support for the kids must continue.

    And while we are at it. Domestic Courts need a complete overhaul!!!Recommend

  • Wateva

    Do these cheap men who beat women not realise that someday they will grow old, need the support of a walking stick, need their gums reinforced with the help of artificial teeth whilst needing the assistance of someone to make sure they get their hot meals on time and remember to give them their medication. Point is, right now when you’re young and physically strong it is easy to beat your wife (most likely also the mother of your kids), but when old age catches up with you so will karma. You will be lucky if your kids even keep you under the same roof and not ship you off somewhere else, having seen what you treated their mother like as a child. You will be old crippled and shivering and no one will feel sorry for you. Most likely you will die a sad lonely death alone on the bed, and the only thing the family will remember about you was being beaten and kicked. Remember that the next time you raise your hand!Recommend

  • MrRollsRoyce

    Mehreen: I am happy that you are raising this issue, but I am sorry to say that one of the MAIN causes of violence against women is the misogyny perpetuated by religion. Religion is anything BUT benign when it comes to treating women as human beings; instead they are reduced to mere being mere chattel and property of men, as objects of “honor” i.e. only fit for being considered sex objects, and not as humans with their own intelligence, free will, hopes and dreams, and desires.

    Thus I believe that TRUE education that teaches equality of all humans and the value of critical thinking (thus sidelining iron-age ideological systems) will lead to an end to such as wife-beating, marital rape, “eve teasing” aka sexual harassment, and so on.Recommend

  • shahid

    >> Furthermore, a particular verse is widely misinterpreted to believe that Islam has permitted husbands to beat up their wives if they do not obey orders.

    How Quran is to be interpreted best, is by the example of the Prophet (pbuh). He dealt with a lot of women in his life time. These included his wives, his daughters, his relatives and women in the general Muslim community. Can any one show a single example that the Prophet (pbuh) ever beat any women in his entire life? In fact he did not like it, said so, and discouraged it. The verse from Quran which is quoted is to be understood in the context of those times and the fact that the Muslim community was being educated and trained gradually. This is no different from the way the use of alcohol was dealt with in steps. The totality of Quran and the traditions of the Prophet’s (pbuh) conduct form the Islamic shariah. We cannot take simply one part part of it and use it to frame the laws of our society. The Prophet (pbuh) has shown by his example how women have to be treated. Anything that is not in conformity with his conduct needs to be looked at and brought in line with how he dealt with it.Recommend

  • imran takkar

    It’s all about power and control, in this connection we should raise our vioce keeping in view to protect women and children from all kind of abuses and exxpliotations.Recommend

  • Parvez

    This subject gets written about every now-and-then, this time you have been more thorough. The victim is the woman and the perpetrator is the man. Asking the man / society to change itself will not work, its very much a male chauvinistic environment.
    Whatever has to be done must be done by the women and yes many clear thinking men will support the action but the initiative has to be a woman’s movement ……and that does not seem to be effectively happening.Recommend

  • Visibly

    Education is important. But equally important are the liberties of any human being, woman or man.
    So, it is vital that women and men take control of their lives. That they make decision on how to live their lives.
    Start asking the question: Is it a failure if you succeed in career but without partner and children? Would it be better for career AND your children with just 1-2 children rather than 5-10?
    And the most important question: How to live and enjoy life.Recommend

  • poorly written

    But cultural shift needs education too! What is your point? Plague?? Just pointing fingers with no solution.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    I agree that education is not the only solution to this problem but Education gives a person to stand for themselves and gives courage….If a woman is educated and her husband ill treats her she could just leave her and start her life again…..for a non educated woman it would be difficult to take a stance like this………and lastly with no offence to any woman I think woman should make their daughters learn to respect other woman even if she is her mother-in-law or sister-in-lawRecommend

  • M I Khan

    Before associating or dissociating change with education, you need to understand and define what EDUCATION is. EDUCATION can and does change culture. You need to instead focus on the kind/quality of education.Recommend

  • Syed Mubeen Hussain Sabzwari

    aik hoti hy taleem aur ik hoti hy tarbiyatRecommend

  • Hassan Khan

    so trueRecommend

  • Farhan

    Mehreen, wife beating will never end. Even in the best of cultures, under the best of education systems, there will always be a margin of violent and aggressive people that will beat their wives.

    Is there no domestic violence in the US, UK and other developed and education countries? Yes there is.Recommend

  • Naeem

    I don’t agree with the “80%” statistic. Where does that statistic really come from? A scientifric study, or is it just another manifestation of the feministic agenda?Recommend

  • iram

    Typically, the author refuses to make a clear argument when it comes to the role of religion, preferring to muddy the waters and walk away. So some verses “appear” to give sanction to wife beating while others talk about “equal status”. Others talk about how the man is superior to his wife. So Islam is at best contradictory about women’s status and at worse openly considers them lower than men. So where’s the ambiguity? Can people not forego this intellectual dishonesty even when living safely outside Pakistan? This refusal to question entrenched sources of patriarchy is the very thing that perpetuates female subjugation; religion is one of the biggest sources. So the author undermines her own argument. If someone as educated and presumably independent as her does not have the courage to say it yet, it’s probably a long wait for the more dependent Pakiatani women to have the courage and, more importantly, intellectual courage to come out of their denial.

    There are many other ways in which Islam gives woman a lower status. Inheritence laws and laws about evidence being a couple more examples. Does the author really believe that she has only intellect enough for her evidence to be counted as half that of a man? Or does she think it’s an outdated rule from a primitive, patriarchal culture, which didn’t have the imagination to see how the status of women would change in a 1000 years? For instance, a woman go for Hajj or Umra on her own. While it may have made sense 1000 years ago, today it sounds ridiculously infantilizing towards women. I have travelled all around half the world on my own. When someone tells me I must have a male relative to go to Umra (not that I want to), it sounds absolutely ridiculous. The point is it is hard for human beings to imagine what the world would be like in a 1000 years, it shouldn’t be for God though.Recommend

  • Saira

    I agree with you as a woman. Pakistani women can either play it completely safe as they usually do following the prescribed formula of life and getting whatever is handed to them be it love, respect and dignity or contempt, disregard and violence. Or they can actually decide to behave like independent human beings with the ability to make their own decisions. When women compromise their dignity and integrity it IS a decison. Their choices may be hard but that’s how it is. They behave like victims and they are treated like victims.Recommend

  • Myra

    How can a non-educationist really know the power of education?

    I understand the point you are trying to make about the ‘educated’ upper classes, but children aren’t just born cultural and political norms, they are taught them by adults in their lives – both men and women. If you’d like a popular opinion shift, you’re going to have to educate your children in schools otherwise. Where in schools – even more elite schools – are we teaching morals and values?

    Please don’t undermine the value and power of education to change generations.Recommend

  • Muhammad Erfan

    there is no cultural shift required. its only a personal thing. bus it depends on the persons persoanlity.Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    Get out of your lala land Sami. Pakistan is not all about you and your family. I dont about the numbers 80% or what, I have spend a good 25 years working with middle class masses of Pakistan and nothing appears shocking then what this writer wrote.Recommend

  • Anam

    u’ve definitely reached to the root of the issue but how do we bring about this shift in popular opinion and change the conventional mind set?Recommend

  • SAK

    @Author: Any practical solution for chaning mindeset or you just wanted to write an article. Education is the only way possilbe, is there any please mention itRecommend

  • Ali S

    The author conveniently missed another elephant in the room: Pakistani women are generally perfectly happy to be stay-at-home housewives who literally live off their husbands, and even highly educated women (such as those who study medicine, and I know this first-hand as a medical student) list ‘finding a husband who will pamper them’ as one of their main aims of life. Not to mention that these same women go on to pass the ‘put-your-wife-in-her-place’ traits to their sons. So the whole anti-women thing actually comes back full circle.
    If a man knows that his wife and her children are solely dependent on him, he inherently grants himself the right to call the shots in the relationship – I’m not saying that’s right, but it’s logical thinking. So until and unless Pakistani women struggle for financial independence like women in the West, this ‘mindset’ isn’t going anywhere – the truth hurts but it is what it is.

    Even then, I highly doubt the 80% figure is true – if by ‘violence’ you also include ‘arguments’, that figure probably rises to 99% in every relationship regardless of whether it is in Pakistan or the most liberal Western country.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    I think its an exaggerated article. Please stop aggravating the situation madam . Things are not that bad in the middle class ( at least ) . Of course the richest and the poorest classes behave alike in many ways .Recommend

  • Sami

    Middleclass of Pakistan is pretty much educated and no way the figure of 80 percent is correct. Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    I strongly object to the term – housewives who live off their husbands. Its not easy being a house wife . And BTW if the woman of the house goes to work , any way you have to pay the nanny/ cleaner / maid etc., So by staying at home , she is reducing those costs to the husband . A penny saved is a penny earned. Your other points are correct and precise .Recommend

  • Hani Abidi

    I think Sami, you should consider CLICKING on the link and read the report “80% of the women suffer violence”.

    Not made up by the author. Some strategy paper she is referring to.Recommend

  • karbalaa

    Its allowed in religion and we should follow wife beating to enforce religion firmly.Recommend

  • Reeba

    I agree with the author. Education may not change physical abuse of women. Reason is psychological. When it comes to arguments, wives can easily win arguments as they are more rational and logical. When husbands realize that the wife’s arguments are valid, but doesn’t want to cave in, he resorts to physical violence, where men have dominance over women.
    In western countries, there are strict rules against domestic violence. There are several instances in US where children reported abuse to their teachers, teachers called social services and the parent went to jail. Western women are empowered and do not have to put up with an abusive husband. So husbands are careful in dealing with domestic issues. They will think twice before resorting to physical abuse.
    In eastern and middle eastern countries, physical abuse is accepted as a norm. Most women are not empowered to live without a husband and so due to fear and social stigma, they do not report domestic abuse. The solution is to empower women so that they do not have to tolerate abuse.Recommend

  • abubakar

    Guys guys give author a break, she probably never has even lived in pakistan , so she does not have any idea how and what life is in pakistan for wivesRecommend

  • Anomaly

    Anecdotal evidence doesn’t disprove facts. Just because you never heard of any domestic abuse doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I don’t know any girl or woman who is illiterate in my family or friends but that doesn’t change the fact that women’s literacy rate in Pakistan is only 40%.

    If you respect someone, you don’t deprive them of education or accept violence against them. You wouldn’t be okay with the fact that marital rape is still allowed and legal in Pakistan. If a woman is raped by a man who’s not her husband then she will most likely end up in prison for reporting it. Are you aware that majority of the women prisoned in Pakistan were charged with adultery because they couldn’t prove their innocence after reporting their rape. Ever think, maybe you didn’t hear of any domestic abuse stories because many women are forced to stay quiet about it and speaking out can result in more violence against them or having their children taken away. Not to mention domestic violence wasn’t even considered a crime until 2006 and there are people in power in Pakistan who are still trying to do away with the protection of women’s act.

    Oh and just so you know, the statistic the author provided can be confirmed by the Human rights watch.Recommend

  • Anomaly

    No the 80% figure is correct and can be confirmed by human rights watch and the human rights commission of Pakistan. Pakistani men or Pakistani women are not to blame, the source of the problem is the culture of patriarchy. If you live in a culture where women are harassed for being in a professional setting and the most honorable and highest status a woman can gain is role of a house wife then you can’t really blame them for the inequality they face.

    Also a man calling the shots in a relationship because he’s the sole provider doesn’t equate to logical thinking. It makes him a caveman if he doesn’t respect his partner.Recommend

  • gp65

    Thank you for writing this. This is an important subject to discuss.

    Even in societies where divorce does not invite social stigma, violence against women is prevalent. The difference is that in countries like US there are strong laws to deal with such problems and more importantly such laws are implemented. Please note however that these laws are fairly recent i.e. around 2 decades old – passed during Clinton regime in 1993 (the present VP Joe Biden was a strong advocate). HEre is some information on VAWA and the impact it has had. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf

    I have in the past volunteered for organisations that help SOuth Asian women who are victims of such violence. They have special challenges because they sometimes cannot speak English fluently to communicate with law enforcememnt authorities and are unaware of their rights. http://www.chetna-dfw.org/?page_id=56 This list should help people identify domestic violence and its warning signs.

    In India we have the laws but the implementation is inconsistent. Some police will refuse to file FIR saying that it is gharelu maamla, aapas mein niptaa lo. Increasingly though the situation has been changing due to some stellar work by NGOs. But there is a long way to go though we are on the right track.

    In Pakistan though people like Sherry Rehman tried to laws passed to address violence against women, the religious lobby did not let them pass. So as important as mindset change is – it is equally important to have economically independent women who have the choice to leave if social stigma were absent and secondly laws that penalise the person hitting them.Recommend

  • gp65

    I am an Indian and do not know if the number 80% is true or not. I will tell you this having worked extensively with domestic abuse victims from South Asia. Most women will avoid letting people know that they suffer domestic violence. They may think ghar ki baat ghar mein rehni chaahiye or they may feel ashamed or helpless in that situation. SO it is possible that in homes where you do not suspect domestic violence, that maybe happening.

    In any case this is an important subject and needs to be discussed even if the 80% number is not accurate. The purpose is to ensure safety for women. Sweeping the subject under the carpet to show a good picture does not serve Pakistani women well.Recommend

  • gp65

    I disagree. Violence against women happens everywhere. This is unrelated to religion. The only difference between Pakistan and USA on this issue is that in US there are strong laws against this and they are implemented. Ever since VAWA was passed in 1993 domestic violence has fallen by 35% but even now the national helpline number gets 22,000 calls a day.Recommend

  • gp65

    I know your heart is in the right place but I think a little nuance is needed here. YEs it may be the husband beating his wife. However the wife’s brother, father, son are also impacted. They too have a stake in reducing the violence. IT is for this reason that when the gangrape in Delhi happened it was not just the women who came out but thousands of men did too.

    One should not dismiss these issues as ‘women’s issues’ even though a woman maybe the primary victim.Recommend

  • pakiboy

    Your photo is not going to impress the authorRecommend

  • gp65

    I agree that a woman should step up and assert her rights. However to empower her to do so, her father needs to ensure she gets education and can be economically independent. It will be far easier for her to walk out of an abusive marriage if she can count on her family (which also includes father and borther)’s emotional support even if economically she is independent.

    Thus while the primary victim (most likely a woman) surely has a role to play one cannot completely ignore the role of her family in empowering her to do so.Recommend

  • Sick of it

    What about the slaves that he raped? And he made it permissable to rape women captured in war.

    he made it lawful for male masters to have sexual relations with female captives and slaves;[84][85] according to Muhammad Al-Munajjid this is regardless of whether or not the slave woman gives her consent “…a slave woman does not have the right to refuse her master’s requests unless she has a valid excuse. If she does that she is being disobedient and he has the right to discipline her in whatever manner he thinks is appropriate and is allowed in sharee’ah.”Recommend

  • Sana

    My father is old now and he used to beat my mom. Now all of us siblings hardly talk to him except hi and bye. He can have his authoritative self in front of tv the whole day and rot.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    You make the very point you’re trying to refute. In the US they have strong laws and they are implemented while in many Muslim majority nations the men don’t even allow laws against domestic violence (eg in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and in the Muslim Personal Law in India) because that takes away the religiously ordained superiority they get over women.Recommend

  • Sana

    Same here. But all of us left his house instead. He behaved this way when we lived in Pakistan. Moved to the West 13 years ago and he only got worse with time. When me and my other two siblings were between 19 and 24, we decided to leave his house for good. Our mother came with us even though she tried her best, eventually she told us to go live our life. We have come leaps and bounds since leaving 4 years ago. We are finally happy. We’d like our mother to take her share of the house. Though she is not yet ready to do so.Recommend

  • Saira

    Your point about financial independence is correct. Pakistani women will have to decrease their absolute dependence on men to have more respect.Recommend

  • Siara

    Sure, but at some stage a woman has to take responsibility and break the chain herself. No one gets things handed to them in life. And it’s often women of the family, especially mothers, who pass on the gift of subservience to their daughters by example and instruction. Maybe women can start by breaking the chain there. Stop telling their daughters that they are lesses human beings than their sons.Recommend

  • Saira

    But surely trying to reduce it to less than 80% is not too ambitious.Recommend

  • Wateva

    Actually unfortunately the culture is changing because of economic and social pressures, so the instances of domestic abuse is also on the rise. It does not matter low class or high class, infact the author’s focus has been on the fact that even among highly educated this is occuring.. I am not sure how about the 80 percent stat, its not related entirely to domestic violence, but the broader term that most women in Pakistan and South Asia face some sort of deometic pressure if not from the husband then definetly from the inlaws. Remember the abuse doesn’t have to physical, it can be emotional and mental when you mistreat your wife or ignore her, or treat her condescendingly. Most women in south asia, dont leave the house as frequently as those in the west, so even the non physical abuse and pressure can be extremely damagingRecommend

  • anon

    You too are being contradictory in your point. Again the problem is not religion but the way it is used and applied. Also most of the problems are cultural and do stem from religion, e.g. violence against daughters is FORBIDDEN and was gravely warned against by the Prophet (PBUH). Yet you see it so prevalent in Pakistan and India because of culturally this is the only way dishonour/ghairat is sought to be dealt with. I can tell you Islam was extremely advanced and permissible in giving women her divorce rights and property ownership rights, when such rights did not exist in other religions. There is also strong emphasis on equality of women and they being treated fairly and with kindness. The Quran has an entire chapter dedicated to women (Surah Al Nisa) something not for men. Islam requires duty towards mankind to be fulfilled separate to that of duty to God. Duties towards each and every relation wife, children, neighbor, parents and community have been outline, with severe warnings for transgressions.You can’t be extremely religious, pray all the time but treat those around you like shit. Unfortunately, religion has been misused and manipulated by alot of so called learned people, most of whom are men. But I can tell you the commandments and rules are there it’s just people selectively apply them.Recommend

  • anon

    I am really surprised that such simplistic assumptions are coming from the men on this forum. BECAUSE it is a male chauvinistic environment, all the more it is required that men equally step up and condemn such practices and rally against it. Women in our society are already placed at a position of disadvantage which is why support of men is ALSO needed. Like the author says, whenever a woman asserts her rights she is given a beatdown for being aggressive, besharam and conflict perpetrator. You need to realize that in South Asia. women whether from low class or high class give primary importance to family roles above their interests; they strive to be good daughters, good wives, good mothers etc. This is what the society and every family expects from them too, so the moment they question something wrong they are ganged up on unlike in the West, where a woman will just walk out the door if shes mistreated. Is this how you want Pakistani woman to snatch their rights? to be more aggressive like Western women?
    I am an educated woman, and despite living abroad, I can tell you my primary strength comes from a supportive father who shields me from all the societal bakwas that takes place all around, otherwise our society only needs an excuse to judge and pass remarks on a woman’s character if she tries to educate herself and pursue her goals. Similarly men need to step up in Pakistan, women have been trying to change the culture, but it is the men that still hold the keys to the actual cultural shift.Recommend

  • Umm….What?

    Clap Clap MashAllah what amazing insight you have into our society “Pakistani women are generally perfectly happy to be stay-at-home housewives who literally live off their husbands” Its people like who perpectuate this misogynist culture in Pakistan, where a woman is seen as someone who is on a permanent vacation sitting at home. Go to your mother who toiled away for years raising you and looking after the house this same statement, and I can guarantee you a slap in return. The reason my own father managed to have a successful career is because my mum ran the house like a clockwork and he never had to look at anythin at home. It was a very lonely tiring and thankless job, especially when day in and day out you do the same tedious tasks over and over again. You wouldn’t last three days like that if you had to run the house with cleaning, cooking and raising kids without going insane. Also not everyone has the luxury of servants especially when abroad. You should be highly respectful of both women who give up their personal dreams and just commit to being home, and also women who work, but rush back home to balance house responsibilities. Please dont get your ideas about housewives from TV dramas, or Polo Club Aunties. Men who have such assumptions about the women are a disgrace to our religion and society and no wonder wives have such a hard time finding the support and understanding they need for their own personal happiness.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    better read religion properly before giving your opinion…..Recommend

  • Parvez

    I have the habit of looking at things pragmaticaly and here I see an issue where women are abused by men and all I say is that it is the woman who has to fight her fight …… and the key is held by the woman in this case. The fact that men must change their attitude and as you say stepup, is something that will not happen by wishing it to happen. It will happen if it is made to happen. Changing a societal thinking pattern takes effort and time.
    Another thing……. I am firmly in your corner.Recommend

  • ZAK

    Back then it was un imaginable for women to raise their voice in front of sword carrying bearded men. Women ( multiple wives and slaves) were supposed to obey and not to object/ disagree. It was usual to trade women as gifts/ slaves. 9 year old Ayesha was gifted by Abu Bakr to 52 year old prophet. 22 year old Hafza was gifted by Umer to 55 year old prophet. Zainab, 30 ( wife of prophets adopted son) was married to 56 year old prophet. Umm Salma was 24 year old married to 57 year old prophet. Javeria was 24 year old married to 58 year old prophet. Safia was 16 year old married to 59 year old prophet. Maimaoona was 36 year old married to 59 year old prophet.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    I have read the appropriate bits of the Quran and I agree with Iram on this point (a couple of comments above this one): The Quran is contradictory on the status of women at best and declares them inferior to men at worst.

    I think religions and their interpretations are as much influenced by culture as the other way round. In Turkey perhaps the people would like to believe in the bit about equality, whereas in Saudi Arabia they like to believe in the bit about women being inferior.
    In my opinion the solution is to remove the influence of religion from the lawbook and make laws based on humane justice and equality.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Your comment reminded me of a story.
    About a year or so ago, a family friend’s elderly father who was in his 80’s fell sick. He and his wife had been married for decades now, and he had never ever treated his wife well. Karma came back to bite him in the behind because when he needed his wife most, she had become numb from year of mistreatment and offered little solace. When he finally passed after a long drawn out illness, she didn’t react much and even now, doesn’t show any signs of missing him or remembering him. It’s almost as if she was liberated after decades of being mistreated.
    I was so saddened by this. Elderly people need their spouse more than ever when they are elderly. How sad to miss out on a potentially wonderful partnership.Recommend

  • Nobody

    What a mean-natured comment.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Observing that domestic violence exists in every country, which it does, does not mean one throws in the towel and gives up. Not too long ago beating your wife was not a serious offense in the US and marital rape didn’t even EXIST on the books as a crime until the 80’s-90’s era. People fought to change that and it worked. VAWA was passed and has worked to reduce offenses and punish perpetrators, sending a message that violence is NOT acceptable. Of course, some will still beat their wives, but they will be made aware of consequences and will likely not get away with it.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Yes because pointing out the ugly situation of women in Pakistan is always a part of the FEMINIST AGENDA for people like you. Welcome to reality sir.
    Furthermore, 80% does not sound like an outrageous number to me at all, granted the word abuse covers ALL forms of abuse, physical, mental and emotional alike.
    Not all men abuse physically; they also inflict emotional scars.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Yes yes, you’re right. Silly author doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Women in Pakistan lead a blissful, carefree life. They’re oh-so respected as housewives. All men are just angels who put their wives on a pedestal. Recommend

  • Shail Arora

    “In India we have the laws but the implementation is inconsistent. Some police will refuse to file FIR saying…”
    Are you kidding me, have you heard about 498a and DV Act? Check this site 498a.org and you’ll get a feel of how these matters are blown out of proportion and how police is involved. Please present all aspects in fairness.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Well said.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Thanks for the civil debate though you disagree with me. I simply said that it is not religion that is forcing people to do these things whichhappen throughout the world. Yes you are correct that these things are tolerated in many Muslim countries just as in the past Sati was tolerated in India. I wold not put the blame on Islam or Hinsuism though it’s followers may abuse the religion or quite from it selectively.

    For example you will find people so willing to point out that Quran asks woman to dress modestly while ignoring that it’s also asks the man to lower his gazeRecommend

  • Gp65

    Strong laws against violence and enforcement of those laws is definitely one way. A social debate that is facilitated by media including focus on reporting such issues, civil society outrage shown b protests demanding improved safety of women and making it an election issue is another, exemplary sentences being passed by judges in case the law is breached is yet another way. Thus media, civil society, law enforcement and legislators each have a role to play. Education alone cannot solve the problem.Recommend

  • anon

    Have you read the entire Quran? Reading appropriate bits is what makes your arguments weak and makes you sound biased and selective. Both Quran and Hadith are EXPLICIT in their commands of treating women with kindness and strictly upholding their rights. The rights of orphans, wives, widows, daughters, mothers, neighbours and everything are EXPLICITLY defined and laid out and cannot be diluted or bent by interpretation. I could revert to you with direct examples which make these requirements mandatory but it looks like you have already made up your mind. You will find Muslims who give justifications and rationalise drinking alcohol even though the Quran explicitly prohibits it in black and white. Similarly people will come up with ways to justify wife beating, and all the other ills in society just to excuse their personal burden. Just because people misuse or misapply the religion doesn’t mean the problem is religion. Any religion or ideology cannot be blamed for the ills perpetuated by the followers who manipulate its message.Recommend

  • Wateva

    Muslim, Hindu or Christian. Your house is your jannat, your paradise, your private solace. The world is bad enough,so God knows why anyone in their right mind would want to poison their private environment and turn it into a living hell for everyone.Recommend

  • Wateva

    I literally have no words and cannot even comprehend what you must have gone through. I dont know how I would have reacted in your place and thank God I never got to see anything like this.Recommend

  • Wateva

    Again like I told sana above, words fail me here. All I can say is my heart goes out to you, hopefully you turned out to be a good person, will not repeat your fathers mistake, and will bring joy and loves into the lives of the people you meet, and InshAllah receive the same in return.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    I’d love for you to revert to me with examples with direct examples provided you accompany them with the exact verses you’ll use to support your claim. Do you want my email address?

    To support my point I’ll just take one verse, the one in which the man is allowed to beat his wife. There are three justifications people try to give for this: that the woman is not be hit on the face and has to be left unmarked, that it is only a token gesture with a small stick, and that it is only to be used as a last resort.
    Seeing as the wife doesn’t have the right to such resorts against the husband, the misogyny in this whole thing couldn’t be clearer.
    (Another example I could have taken is about the worth of a woman’s testimony compared to a man’s.)Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    I love civil debates!
    You’re assuming that religions have to be inherently benign. I don’t have that compulsion. Though Hinduism isn’t really a religion so much as the collective of most of Indian culture, I don’t mind accepting whatever faults it had or has. The caste system is one of them.

    Recommend

  • IMRAN KHAN

    Wateva & Sana . It is not that easy to change the mentality coming from generations . Boys who see their father beating their mother since they were born, this will stay in their back of their mind & they at some point will behave the same way . I think it is the lack of Moral education & lack of understanding between the husband and wife. If one understand the rights and responsibilities of each other ( Husband and wife ) the problem will be solved with the passage of time , It might take two generation but some one need to start spreading awareness about the problems & the solutions . Women who face any kind of abuse need to talk to her kids that they should not go thru this, she herself can even talk to her husband that if you think what ever you doing to me is right , you should do it in front of everyone & if you cant do that it means it is not right ( verbal or physical abuse ) . Now in India by law you cant burn the widow . It is changing over there also . The more we get educated about the life the better it will be. Recommend

  • Chayn

    That is so touching! We need to hear more stories like that. Women keep thinking it is good for their children to have a father present but an abusive parent makes a toxic household. Nobody is happy. Women suffer abuse to be a good mother but end up only as a victim. You are obviously very brave and we are glad to read you took your mother with you. We get entries from women on our website who ask about what they should do ‘Everyone tells me it is my duty to give child a father but he abuses me. Should I stay?’.

    Best of luck for the future!Recommend

  • Sana

    Thank you there. Yeh, all three of us siblings have turned out to be incredibly successful, despite the battering of the two of us (girls) and our mother. We do struggle with the mental scars and have been working hard to heal for longer than since we moved out of his house. Living in that environment was like walking on egg shells and if you imagine a graph it was always in the negative direction, because everytime you tried to get up, the self esteem was shattered again and again and over again. The funny thing is our father’s brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews don’t believe us or understand our plight. Didn’t get a penny from him and have built our wealth from scratch and we now hold multi million dollars worth of real estate – all accomplished within our 20’s and in the last 4 years since moving. But we are still striving and the last nail in the coffin would be building a house for our mother, us and our brother before we hit 30 and we will make it happen.

    The only challenge is that, despite being attractive (green eyes, brown hair), we still keep believing the messages our father fed us – that we were incapable of finding husbands. It’s challenging, but I just hope that when we do find someone, it’s a good person and that we are able to bring up much healthier families as we have a lot more awareness. I also pray our brother doesn’t repeat what he has seen growing up. Though he is a lot more sensible.Recommend