Women are given a ‘lofty’ status in religion, but in society they are a demeaned lot
A woman is born as an embodiment of sacrifices. Giving up her share in one way or the other runs in her blood, or rather, genes. A woman prioritises the likes, choices and requirements of everyone other than herself for “greater good”. One of the unavoidable stages in a woman’s life comes when, as a bride, she leaves her home, her birthplace, along with the history as well as the geography attached with her previous life. She gives up almost all of her choicest belongings and every important possession in this crucial transition to the next home, which is supposed to be the final and permanent base of her life to come. From the very first day, this journey starts with coded as well as un-coded responsibilities, high expectations, ceaseless care and love which she has to deliver at all costs, even if everything seems against in her way. The married woman goes on to change her way of living at her paternal home just to adjust in her husband’s particular world, a sort of total surrender. She does everything possible to match the expectations from the new domestic chorus, from economic gains to familial obligations. She is always expected to remain fit and present the best part of herself and not give anybody a chance to raise any question against her, no matter how painful the situation she may be in.
The life of a girl at her paternal home is quite different. She doesn’t worry about any unfinished task, to rise up early or to hurry for things that need to be done. As soon as she steps into her in-laws, everything is to be adjusted afresh, a drastic and unavoidable change in her life. She doesn’t want anybody to get annoyed with her at all, so she does everything to keep every member happy and joyful. This feat can only be pulled off by a woman, who sacrifices every desire and dream to see others happy. She has to fit herself within the walls of married life, cultivating her relationship with every belonging of her new home and the people living there. She sheds her tiredness, pretends to be healthy just to be available to her husband, for her children, 24/7 like a robot. Most of the time, she doesn’t focus on or worry about her health. The pain of the separation from her home and loved ones hits hard at the core of her heart but she pretends to be okay and well just for the sake of the expected behaviour from her. A woman, in a way, obliterates her entire being for the comfort of the people who always expect love from her, in good as well as bad situations coming in her way.
Let’s consider another heart-wrenching side of this story that is exclusive to women. As she prepares for life, a woman has to prepare herself for some frightful experiences. Demands for dowry, the threat of domestic violence, the ever-increasing cases of rapes, sexual harassment, inferiority complex, and other shameful aspects of society make her suffer in one way or the other. The tremendous increase in violence against women has shaken the ground of humanity. Such violence not only ruins a woman’s life but mutilates her being and will to start anew. She reaches a point of hopelessness where she makes a total surrender to the situation or loses herself into a grave of no return.
We are quite aware of the extreme kind of domestic violence such as the case which recently took place in Mattan Akhura area of Anantnag district. The victim was a 20-year-old woman who was the mother of two children. Her only crime was that she refused to pay further dowry to her in-laws. Then all hell broke loose upon her. She was burnt alive by her in-laws. Her life didn’t matter to them. Horrendous cases like these are growing terribly across the world. As per the official records on domestic violence, as many as 20 women are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute in the world. Women, mostly between the years of 19 and 24, are most commonly abused. Abuse falls into one or more of the following categories: physical, sexual, psychological, and economic. The impact of the violence not only harms the immediate victim but also destroys and disturbs the children’s physical and mental well-being. In this way our future generations are also affected as well.
As mentioned in the holy Quran, men are the protectors and maintainers of women who must take all responsibilities to guard their life and honour. Men must respect women as the mothers of humanity who nourish civilisations in their laps in all circumstances and ages. But the ever-growing dictatorial system of patriarchy has encouraged abuse of women. When a woman is not safe even at home, how can her safety be assured in bazaars, offices, functions? This way she is deteriorated physically, morally, and emotionally without any cure in sight.
What must be done to restore the lost natural position which is the basic birthright of a woman? How can we repair the wrongs done in our culture and customs which have marred the lofty status of a woman to a mere robot available in the service of everyone else other than herself? In what ways we can understand her unspoken protests against her unending sacrifices? Questions like these seem to have no answers. What we do, instead, is to turn a deaf ear to the growing cries of women.