Jailed by my own brother
I am a computer engineer who graduated from one of the best universities for computer sciences and IT in Pakistan. I was very happy when I graduated in 2012.
My GPA was not perfect, but it was still good enough to get a job. I was so happy. I had so many dreams, ones that would make my single mother very proud. I dreamt of getting some respect in this society that had treated me as a ‘yateem’ (orphan) for far too long. I dreamt of buying expensive dresses, being free and finding my ‘Mr Right’. I had dreams of becoming so much more than what I am now.
We shifted to Lahore as my brother was studying there. The move was good for me too as getting a job in Lahore was better than working in Abbottabad (where I lived). I started applying to a few software houses and got a few positive responses. I was being called for interviews and tests from some of the best software houses in the city. My mother was also very supportive and proud of me. But when my brother found out that I am applying for jobs, he forbade me and ‘ordered’ me to sit at home, giving the excuse of “halat kharab hein” (situation is bad in the city).
Although he is younger than me, his opinion is always valued and followed as he is the only male member of the family. And because he is the one who will be taking care of my mother once I am married, he is given more preference and importance than I am.
Therefore, I sit at home.
I have been unemployed for two years now, wasting the knowledge that I gained, as I am not allowed to work. I still get opportunity letters from firms who are willing to give me a starting pay of Rs40,000 to Rs60,000. But I am not allowed to earn or work because I am a girl – a girl in Pakistan. It is acceptable for my brother to work, even if he earns only Rs11,000, which barely gets us by. But I am not allowed to earn because I am a woman. This is where I stand today.
What is the use of me working hard day and night for a degree in computer engineering if my efforts were to be wasted? Why send me to university in the first place then? Why did I face all the harassment and teasing of my fellow male students if, by the end of the day, I had to sit at home?
If I had to stay unemployed, I could have halted my education after completing my FSc. Or I could’ve just stayed uneducated to begin with.
I am getting depressed and sadder day by day. I have started taking anti-depressants and other medicines. Sitting at home, I feel like I am going mad. I have nothing to do other than to wash dishes or watch TV. It seems as if I am jailed, jailed and mentally tortured by my own brother, with the support of my mother. I am jailed, by my own.
But it is not only me. There are countless other women in Pakistan who work hard to get an education and then have to sit at home washing dishes, clothes and cooking gol rotis for their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons. It is such a shame.
I do not know when the time will come when we’ll actually get rewards for our hard work, or when our society will realise that there can be female breadwinners in the family as well. For how long do we have to be jailed and imprisoned by our own brothers, husbands and fathers?
Till when do we have to be treated so worthlessly at the hands of our very own?
Can someone please answer my questions? Can someone tell me when will all this end?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.