A woman must not speak

Published: November 21, 2012
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Educated and financially independent women often meet the same fate of mental and physical torture in our male-dominated society as well — it is just under-reported. PHOTO: FILE

A culture that respects women is a step towards a society free of violence. But in Pakistan, hardly a daypasses when we do not hear about cases of rape, acid throwing or domestic fights.

Educated and financially independent women often meet the same fate of mental and physical torture in our male-dominated society as well — it is just under-reported. Women are not given due importance by their male relatives and there is no law for those who torture women mentally. Whether she is a housewife or a working woman, she is made to feel rejected and useless.

If a woman cannot have children, she might feel insecure; men have the option of remarrying but where does a woman stand in our society? After marriage, elders of the family ask girls to conceive immediately saying a child helps make a relationship stronger.

Can a wife and husband not love each other and make the relationship work without a child?

Does love not work without a child?

Most men want a perfect woman, who is good at managing work and a home life simultaneously and is beautiful and active. Men, however, have no apprehensions of what they are and how they look themselves. The relationship is safe so long as the woman does not speak.

As girls grow up, they are taught to be patient and silent. If the husband has affairs or secretly had a previous marriage, she cannot speak, else the relationship will suffer. Even the media does not encourage bold women; images of females suffering in silence are portrayed as role models in our TV dramas.

In many cases of arranged marriages, if a man doesn’t like his wife, he can easily say three words and leave but if a woman doesn’t like her husband, she cannot leave him. She has to make every effort to save the relationship.

Even working women are not an exception.

If they speak out, it often goes against them and they are blamed for everything that goes wrong. They don’t have any other option but to silently suffer through the relationship. I know many professional women who excelled in their fields but even they complained about their husbands’ attitude and selfishness.

Women spend their entire lives hoping that things might change but they don’t.

Do we not want to change?

Perhaps, we are happy living in ignorance.

Ishrat Ansari

Ishrat Ansari

The author works at The Express Tribune.

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

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Happy Women’s Day Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Actually as someone who is part of a loving and sincere relationship I have to say that unless you speak up, the marriage will suffer. If there are things you can’t talk about and thoughts you or your partner repress, then they will fester into deep resentful volcanoes which will erupt later.

    If that’s the sort of relationship you have, then it isn’t a relationship at all, and you have to call it quits.

    Most men want a perfect woman, who is
    good at managing work and a home life
    simultaneously and is beautiful and
    active. Men, however, have no
    apprehensions of what they are and how
    they look themselves. The relationship
    is safe so long as the woman does not
    speak.

    I feel sorry for you that you’ve met men like this. Don’t paint with such a wide brush. And if these are the men that exist, then women should find the strength to do without them. That comes not only with education, but with having their own careers. A career is true independence.

    You don’t have to take sh*t from anyone. Recommend

  • Madhia

    well agree with you. our society is like that, we cant change mindset and thats the saddest thing. If, by luck you marry a nice person then your life is good otherwise just have to pass tym or produce unlimited children as most of the paki women do.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The mouth belongs to the woman and if she chooses not to speak, its her choice. Without speaking up you’ll never be heard and then to blame the world would be wrong.
    @Noman Ansari’s comment makes abundant sense.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    Sometimes women are their own worst enemies. Sure us men can be dweebs, but how many times have you heard or seen stories of domestic abuse where at least one female member, whether it was the mother in law, sister or even aunt, were part of the violence! I don’t mean to be rude, nor do I justify this behavior, but most abusive husbands are backed by their ‘dearest’ mothers/aunts/grandmothers. If they stick up for their wives they’re branded as ‘weak’ and having been ‘corrupted’ by their wives. Something needs to change for sure, but women have to take equal responsibility for this sad situation. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and take a stand!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Uhhh… dweebs?

    Dude…

    Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and
    take a stand!

    Anyway… easier said than done of course. Especially, as the writer says, in what is a male dominated society. Besides, if she has kids, how can she leave them? In these situations, each child is like another chain around an abused woman’s leg.

    That’s what I meant. Careers are what give women independence. If she can take care of herself financially, suddenly she finds it easier to do as she pleases. Even then, it isn’t easy. The stigma around a divorced woman is far greater than a divorced man. And in our societies, no matter how strong a woman is, the reputation is make or break.

    There are only two options. The easier one means a life of cowering, pain, suffering, and putting your own needs aside. The other is more difficult, but the rewards are greater. Recommend

  • Madhia

    @Parvez: well women in our society dont access much right to speak their heart outRecommend

  • Working Woman

    @ author “If a woman cannot have children, she might feel insecure; men have the option of remarrying but where does a woman stand in our society?”

    Whom are you blaming here? Why restirct a guy to not re-marry if he has tried all medical oppurtunities as well? If a woman can’t have kids, she should be wide-hearted to let his loved one re-marry. And Man should treat both equally.. Enough Justice.. What to speak of here? And what about society? Other societies can produce infertile women as well. Don’t just blame Our society.

    @ author
    ‘If the husband has affairs or secretly had a previous marriage, she cannot speak, else the relationship will suffer.’

    She should speak for herself.. If she doesn’t , it’s her own choice. And Don’t forget woman cheating their husbands. Women are no angels.

    Pakistani Woman are never gonna get happy.. Men, Please start speaking for yourself.. Recommend

  • Human

    Speak up Women .
    Fight for your selves .Recommend

  • Human

    I agree with Noman ,

    Life goes on & yes there is a life if you don’t have a husband , if your Divorced there is a life your life live it
    If you don’t have kids adopt .
    There are many choices choose one & stand up for it Recommend

  • Waqar Saleem

    Judging by this and other typical posts on ET, notwithstnding all the things women can not do, there is one thing they surely can… whine.Recommend

  • Jeenan Ehiyaan

    @Noman Ansari:

    Stop with your personal attacks on writer’s life. Its not imperative that this perspective must have developed from any personal experience that she had had with some cruel man out there and shes taking it out here on a public forum and casting slur on name of all the goody-goodies like you. It could be based on her observation from what she might have learnt watching the people and their lives. I must say you have got such a narrow perspective. Plus, if you are talking about women from elite class then yes they can take a stand, be independent and support their children, even happily bear the label of being a divorcee and yet be content but if you talk about women from middle class and lower class then their lives after divorce stay equally difficult as it is with a cheating husband. Our society is yet far away from recognizing females’ rights and subduing majority of the men who cheat on their wives out of fun and false excuses.
    Now please dont assume again that I say all this because I have been cheated on too and need to buck up.Recommend

  • Happiness

    I can’t agree more with Noman Ansari and Pessimist. Speaking from my very own experience of a six month wedding – I’ve realized we only make it easier on ourselves when we blame others for our misfortune. Women need to stand up for their rights and it doesn’t always have to be in an aggressive manner. In some cases when push comes to shove then one must make a decision and its okay to get up and leave.
    I would always laugh at my mother watching Indian soaps and Pakistani dramas. I even remember telling her things like this NEVER HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE but unfortunately THEY DOES! Women- politics do exist and it’s silly to ignore it especially when you have an overly sensitive mother –in – law and when your husband is always her shoulder to cry on. I think the stupidity also lies in the way women think that since we have managed to establish an understanding with our husbands we can also establish an understanding with our in-laws but that’s not how it always works out. I knowingly married into a family where my mother-in-law was from the village (Kotla) and completely uneducated. SO UN-WISE! Marriages need to be thought out carefully, back grounds have to be paid attention to. If you’re educated please don’t limit yourself to just an educated husband but extend your self to an educated family. The apple doesn’t falls far from the tree. Recommend

  • Muhammard Rizwan Ali

    Yes women are innocent in Pakistan, they really can not speak,
    90% men not love their wifes, having a wife, they always after other women
    98% women love their husband, and even knowing, they are interested in other women, they wait, may be they come back
    God help our country women
    They must speakRecommend

  • Sahar

    Come on guys..Its just a Divorce !
    It could be Cancer as-well :oRecommend

  • Historian 1

    @ Parvez

    ‘The mouth belongs to the woman and if she chooses not to speak, its her choice. Without speaking up you’ll never be heard and then to blame the world would be wrong.
    @Noman Ansari’s comment makes abundant sense.’

    I am sure you don’t know what happened to Malala for speaking.Recommend

  • hammad

    the day our society elevates the status of the women give them education, job opportunities, not marry their daughters at early age …will be the day that pakistan will finally progress and that pakistan will be called Jinnah’s pakistan

    InshallahRecommend

  • kashaf

    Alas!! that is bitter truth of our so called liberal society , men claim they are broad minded and secular but inside they have narrow mindset for their wives,sisters,mother. 8 out 10 are actually liberal but the remaining need to be improved too. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Jeenan Ehiyaan:

    Huh?

    I was making a general statement about women in the situation. Chill. Have a pretzel. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Madhia: I understand what you have said and it is true but in my thinking you have two options, suffer or fight. You must understand that my comment is not specific but of a general nature because every case, in these circumstances, are different and must be treated accordingly. This is a very complex subject and I admire the author for broaching it. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Historian 1: That story is a completely different ball game.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Battle-Every-Second-For-My-Existence/169634173109760 T

    @Historian 1:
    yes, speak! and when you speak, people say you’re paranoid. Recommend

  • Jeenan Ehiyaan

    @Noman Ansari:

    ugh!Recommend

  • Historian 1

    @ Parvez: Its the same ball game, women are harassed by men at all levels all places, methods are different, even the religion discriminates against women in case of leadership, inheritance, divorce, hadood laws, witness etc etc. MY point is men have to change their attitude and give son and daughter the same status and respect right from birth. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Noman Ansari and Pessimist
    On point.

    @Waqar Saleem
    Congratulations on the completely useless not to mention tad insensitive comment. You’re right; with men like you in Pakistan, what could Pakistani women possibly have to complain about…? eye roll

    My own two cents…. stop giving a s* what other people think. Yes, I know, easier said than done, but that’s a starting point. The sooner women stop caring what society will say or think or feel or do, the faster the situation will at least BEGIN to progress, with many other factors needing to coincide with this.
    Women in developed countries had to stop caring what people thought when they made the choice to leave the home and put career before making dozens of babies (no dis to anyone who wants a big family, I’m just against having a family too soon and ending up shackled). Become financially independent first, have a family later. People will talk, haters will hate, etc but at the end of the day you answer to yourself (and God for those who believe), NOT other people. Cheers. Recommend

  • Historian 1

    In every pakistani tv drama you will see men raising hands over women and slapping them and kicking them. this is the story of almost every house when a woman speaks up. we have to get out of men supremacy phobia. the stronger of the two has to set the example.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    A very simple solution to all the complaints about husbands this and husbands that. Do not marry. It is a free choice and only a civil agreement, not a cosmic binding. Do not get involved in it.Recommend

  • blah

    to be very honest, it is actually the woman herself who is the enemy of other women. If the mother does not teach her son how to behave and if she herself does not set an example how can we expect men to give respect. God only help those who help themselves!Recommend

  • csdr

    @Noman Ansari:
    rightly said Noman…..Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    @ Noman Ansari

    “There are only two options. The easier one means a life of cowering, pain, suffering, and putting your own needs aside. The other is more difficult, but the rewards are greater”.

    I think you are stating that if a woman chooses to stick to a ailing relationship that will mean a life off cowering pain and suffering but if she chooses to go her own way it is more difficult but rewarding. I need to understant what rewards could be there for such woman? With her financial independence she could buy her trips round the globe, servants , good clothes , excellent food to some extent peace of mind and feeling of independence ( yes I agree they mean a lot) but what of her lonliness. When parents pass away , life could actually be very very lonely and depressing despite all the financial glory that is also one factor that could be compellign for financially independent women to stick to a strained relationship.

    Another reason for suffering woman to stick as rightly pointed out by some one here are the kids. Whether or not the woman is happy , the happiness she finds on the face of her child when the father hugs and kisses the child ; she may find that happiness too precious to loose for the child…………………………….

    Infact expereince tells me that financially indepdendent woman face tougher fate in married life; and I agree to some extent with the author that they are expected to be more than perfect , provide financial support to husband, cook , clean , provide for themselves, take care of the baby , take care of the inlaws and on top of that not to speak a word for their own right and if they do that they are blamed to be arrogant, insensitive ,selfish and non compromising and manlike…….. whew ….. that hurts but financially independent marreid woman are further subjogated for speaking for their rights….,

    I think the situation for such woman is more like the one captured in an urdu proverb

    Aagay khaii and pechay kunwan………………….

    Whatever she chooses she could potentially be a sufferrer…. by default not by choice..Recommend

  • crazy martian

    Again some points raised by some men here are very good. Most marriages in Pakistan are still arranged. Arranged marriages will always lead to one being the silent partner. Putting two people in a room and telling them to make it work no matter what the cost is always going to lead in some situations a dysfunction of the relationship. Here in lies the problem, without knowing most people get married. Marriage in most cases are brought upon the woman folk as a way of getting rid of them. I am not talking about the privileged classes ones here. Then you have the age old norm that MEN are the real deal. They are more precious then the daughters and will always get the best among them. When a society is brought up on these principles the womanfolk will eventually always consider themselves of a lower level. Thus the silence. When these woman become mothers and eventually mother in laws they try to follow it up by bulling whoever the son has married. In the end it is just woman folk bullying each other. Yes some men are arses but not all of them. Most of them try to find a middle ground but usually due to the dynamics of our family oriented society that just doesn’t work. Recommend

  • For Talaq

    Marry at young age and Don’t be afraid of Talaq, its not as bad as you think. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Historian 1: You are entitled to your view which is the generalised larger picture. One aspect is the societal one, being discussed here in this blog. The other one -Malala- is the political aspect on this. Recommend

  • Paki boi

    “Most men want a perfect woman, who is good at managing work and a home life simultaneously and is beautiful and active. Men, however, have no apprehensions of what they are and how they look themselves. The relationship is safe so long as the woman does not speak.”

    also add to above “And every woman wants a rich man, who is tall, handsome and has a separate house”

    if girls and their parents expect the guys to be like prince charming then there is nothing wrong if the guys has few wishes and expects his wife to be beautiful and caring.Recommend

  • Historian 1

    Can we leave it to boys and girls (once they are adult) whom they want to marry and spend their life with. Why mashraqi (eastern) parents involve themselves into so much before, during and particularly after the marriage of their children. Seems like pakistani/ indian parents have no entertainment in their life other than interfering into children marital lives and at the same time eastern children are also so farmanbardar (obedient) that they will destroy their marital lives listening to undue demands of the parents. In pakistan parents literally control the lives of their children even after their marriage.Recommend

  • Kiran

    The article seems to lack a concept or a central idea behind it.
    What was the real purpose of telling the world about this? That the Pakistani women are supressed? They lack the power to decide and work toward a solution with maturity?

    I think, whatever the matters are with our women, we should write constructive things about it. Just urging the women of our society to raise voice against every bad thing a man does to her, isnt the only thing that should be done. You should guide them to attain and restore their rights with dignity and honour. not just teach them to do BAGHAWAT!Recommend

  • Aby

    Oh poor women. So much obsessed with their innocence. Why are you ignoring the fact that mostly married women are tortured by their “mother in laws” who are also a “woman”. If she is not fertile, the vary same SAAs and NAnd forces her husband to go for second marriage, again by “women”. Men mostly busy in their job and business but conspiracy masters are “women”, you must have seen a lot such “stories” on star plus etc. Women are the core reason for spreading hatred between brothers to get a separate home for the fulfilment of their ego. And there is a long list to go for.
    I don’t want to sound biased and I do agree there are women who suffers due to male dominance and I strongly condemn such issues but you’re equally responsible for so many broken relationships. Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    In the Order of things She has to be subsevient to her husband. It is up to the women to make a marriage successful.You cannot change their Roles in Life. Those who have tried have not had a successfull marriage. Recommend

  • Hurricane

    HA HA HA HA Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd): That Sir, is a disgustingly terrible comment that displays tunnel vision and misplaced chauvinism at best.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    @Parvez Did I ruffle your feathers. There a kind of people who are Secular & Liberated and a kind who are LL(Liberally Liberated). Which one are you. Take time to read your Scriptures. The Quran & Sunnah. : Recommend

  • Major General Chief of Army Staff Zubaida Apa (Retd)

    I’m sure that an educated Pakistan will not have such issues. I believe Pakistan’s literacy rate is increasing dramatically every year. I’m hopeful our youth will think twice before casting their vote this time. Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    I hope everyone is enjoying the Saudi Arabian influence of the society. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd):
    I chose my words ‘ tunnel vision’ and ‘ misplaced chauvinism ‘ carefully and now I see that continuing this exchange would be pointless. So, lets leave it here with ‘ you be happy with your thinking and leave me to mine ‘.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I agree with Parvez. What a pathetic comment. Does that retd stand for retarded or what?

    I feel sorry for your wife Imtiaz. Please take the time to understand your scriptures, rather than just ‘read’ them. You seem like a product of Pakistan’s ratification educational system. Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    @Noman Ansari: Say what you may. You are entitled to your upinion. We have a marriage which has lasted 37 years. I have a deep respect & consideration for my wife who has stood alongside me through thick & thin.She understands her Role in Life & I do my bit. Allah be praised. Recommend

  • Historian 1

    @ Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd): Dear Sir, you are right in your views (as per 7th century scriptures). Your wife (like many women of your generation) could not speak because of the male dominance fear and chauvinism (men controlling women), but here we are talking about a new generation of 21st century educated, modern and working women (even saudi women are demanding their rights). We cannot keep todays women house arrested anymore. Therefore please understand that we are discussing a different woman as compared to your generation.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Historian 1: Thank you and well said.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    With due respect, My wife graduated in 1975 prior to our marriage. My mother graduated in the 50’s & I can tell you that they compare very well in Education to the predent day Degree Holders. I don’t see any women in chains nor do I see any women confined to the four walls. They go out where they please. You can see them shopping till late at night without any excort. I think you what you mean is a women like in the West(Aaaaaaaaazad).Take your choice.Recommend

  • http://Theexpresstribune Decoy

    Simple ban every Indian drama or Pakistani drama that provides fight between people or make people look other to suspicious eyes And every problem in Pakistani society is done by Women’s.Recommend

  • Kawish ALi HUSSAIN

    The only thing of this writer is, She has focused the very common problem of our society . we know that sth thing is going wrong but we donot express, she expressed it thats the faboulus job.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Working Woman: “If a woman can’t have kids, she should be wide-hearted to let his loved one re-marry. And Man should treat both equally.. Enough Justice..”

    If a woman can’t have kids because of some “sperm” problem, do you think her husband should be “wide-hearted” and let his wife get “sperm” from some other sources?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @crazy martian says ” Again some points raised by some men here are very good. Most marriages in Pakistan are still arranged. Arranged marriages will always lead to one being the silent partner. Putting two people in a room and telling them to make it work no matter what the cost is always going to lead in some situations a dysfunction of the relationship. Here in lies the problem”

    Life is hard. Key is learning to accept others as they are. No one should be allowed to physically hurt others.

    As for arranged marriage is concerned, it should happen only when both boy and girl accept it. In Western countries women have total freedom to choose their husbands. People date for months, years even sleep together. Marriages still have problems and many end up in divorces.

    Big difference is no one can kill a woman for sake of honor or beat her for any reason. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Decoy: “Simple ban every Indian drama or Pakistani drama that provides fight between people or make people look other to suspicious eyes”

    Dramas can actually be used to educate people. Some Indian dramas are about problems in daily lives and how that get solved.

    A mother in law and daughter in law who watch “dramas” together are less likely to fight.Recommend

  • Working Woman

    @Insaan:
    Depends on what rules thier life & what Beliefs they follow. It’s call of the partners.
    This world is full of surprises to me. The idea might not sound bad to someone yet living in the same world.

    To ask in terms of what I believe, if adoption is not an option and love is failing, let woman go out of the marriage bond decently and let her TRY , yes TRY , another man. Her choice. Recommend

  • WHY

    @Happiness: I think this is a blog in itself. It’s so ironic because you’ve had such a sad experience yet you call yourself Happiness. I think its great that you acquire this power to let go and move on. Best of luck
    Speaking from my very own experience of a six month wedding – I’ve realized we only make it easier on ourselves when we blame everyone else for everything that went wrong instead of taking responsibility. Women need to stand up for their rights and it doesn’t always have to be in an aggressive manner. In most cases when push comes to shove then one needs to make a decision and its okay to get up and leave.
    I would always laugh at my mother watching Indian soaps and Pakistani dramas. I even remember telling her things like this NEVER HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE but unfortunately THEY DO! WOMEN -POLITICS do exist and it’s silly to ignore it especially when you have an OVERLY SENSITIVE, OUTWARDLY POSSESIVE mother –in – law and ALWAYS seems to use YOUR HUDBAND as her shoulder to cry on. I think the stupidity also lies in the way women think – ONLY because you have managed to establish an good understanding with your husband it doesn’t mean that you’ll manage to establish a better understanding with your in-laws. You can care and give them all your love but your still an outsider. You will constantly be observed and taken to task. I knowingly married into a family where my mother-in-law was from the village (Kotla) and completely uneducated. SO UN-WISE! Marriages need to be thought out carefully, back grounds have to be paid attention to. If you’re educated please don’t limit yourself to just an EDUCATED HUSBAND but extend your self to an EDUCATED FAMILY. Do yourself a favor since the apple DOESN’T falls far from the tree. Recommend

  • new to this

    yes it is true, women do seem to be causes of other womens suffering,, but as i am one who has personally been at receiving end of this… i tried to speak up, but also to just go along woith it.. neither worked.

    if the man has not been taught how to behave, or is given too much freedom by all to do what he wants, then i am afraid he will go on doing this.

    i am a british pakistani and so was my ex… but problem… the in-laws were from pakistan!!

    i never had a chanceRecommend

  • http://gmail.com Iftekhar Khokhar

    Women folk of this society is the most unfortunate one. There are no positive signs of any improvement with regard to their issues!!!! Law appears to be inactive(read: dormant) on the plights relating to female harrassment, gender discrimination, abuse, physical assault rape, mental torture etc. Little, rather no heed is being paid to control exploitation. No denying the fact this society is on the verge of moral collapse. Premarital & matrimonial state of affairs indicate marriages are proving to be bane on the part of women rather boon vis a vis societal trends suggest young girls & boys are indulging in unnecessary matters leading to many repercussions. Redressal of issues is not imminent. A state of hoplessness prevails in every section of sociey. Alarmingly, the marriages are fast breaking leading to many physical & psychological ailments!!! Our electronic & print media, the only ray of hope, are suggesting remedies for the appraisal of viewers but useful outcome is not ensuing. Government functionaries are silent on such issues – the biggest dilemma.Recommend