Gender Inequality – Blog Action Day 2014

Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing more and more people starting to raise their voice over social issues. It’s even more strong when they start working as a group targeting the issue. Today is Blog Action Day! I feel immense happiness to contribute to such a cause! If my post gets at least one single person thinking, it would be my victory!

Blog Action Day is an free annual event, that has run since 2007. It’s aim is to unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all, raises awareness or even funds for not-for-profits associated to the theme issue. You can read more about their history and different topics covered until now on blogactionday.org

This year Blog Action Day plans on covering the topic, ‘Inequality’. I believe that ‘Charity begins at Home’, so I thought I’d chose the topic that closely relates to me, the people around me and my country – ‘Gender Inequality’, i.e. Violation of Human Rights of Women!
I and many of my sisters around the world come face to face daily with simple to extreme gender based violence against women in many areas of life! Equality in human rights for men and women seems only to be a story in textbooks which students have to study to just pass exams! Women face these inequalities at home, school, offices, marriage, motherhood, etc.. yet people tend to oversee it as a normal thing in life.
From around the world, gender inequality seems to be at it’s extreme in Asian and African countries. It all starts with seeing girls as burden from birth (or before birth itself!). Female infanticide is prevalant even in high class socities in these countries. They see expenses done for a woman as waste because she will eventually go to live with her husband and his family! Male children are showered with love and gifts as they see benefits in it! Like guys, don’t you feel ashamed of being loved and cared because you are seen as an asset than human!!??

Throughout childhood both boys and girls grow up seeing woman treated just like a maid in the house. It is fed into their minds that kitchen is where a woman would evetualy live and die in! Boys grow up to believe woman are their maids and girls grow up learning to be one! Girls are taught that being Fair & Lovely will bring them good fortune than their charactor and education. No matter how bad the guy looks, or he is uneducated, unemployed – they can still demand for fair, tall beautiful wives. Girls see right in front of their eyes how their parents curse and sweat over making enough money to give as dowry and the same parents calculating the dowry to be demanded for their son.

These violence are done in the name of religion and traditions! Really? Lets see, I am a muslim and in our religion the boy is supposed to give a girl ‘mahr’ during marriage and promise to takecare of her well. The mahr can be as simple as an iron ring IF THE GIRL ACCEPTS. The guy is supposed to show he can takecare of the girl and provide for her basic needs himself. Whatever amount the girl’s parents give her remains hers! She can decide what to do with the money and stuff her parents gave her, even husbands have no right over it! She wishes to give it all away as charity, she can do so! This is what our religion say, then how come people bend and change it to their wish?!
Now in my place, people have started seeing demanding money as shameful so instead another rule has taken its place! As mahr whatever the guy gives the girl, the girl’s family should give back 10 times the amount. This is like a secret rule! So if the guy gives the girl an amount of 50(whatever currency or jwellery), the girl’s parents will give back 500!!! And just to sugarcoat the word dowry, they say its savings for the couple!! Like the whole meaning of marriage becomes destroyed here, if the guy can’t make his own money to takecare of the girl, why marry in the first place!?

Next comes the violence at home, ladies are supposed to serve their husbands and his family after marraige. The more she works like a donkey, the more praises she recieves! She is not supposed to complain, bear with the anger of husbands and his family, forget her wishes and live according to what they say – in short she should become a doll with keys in the hands of her husband and his family! She is supposed to keep forgiving and forgeting her husbands faults (even if he goes into extra marital affairs) and not do even a single fault herself.
Simple things like she getting a new dress and jwellery for herself, going out shopping with husbands are questioned upon and seen as selfishness. If her husband sits near her in public, it is deemed that the guy is under her control and made fun of. For this reason even nice guys act bossy to their wives in front of his family and friends. Why can’t he be man enough to tell them to mind their own business or even better to just ignore them?! Mother-in-laws are given full permission to question even her toilettery choices of shampoos and undergarments!! These things might sound exaggerated to you – like does these things happen in today’s world?! Sad but yes! It does! I am not exaggerating!

Sketch by my sister, Asmiya Basheer
I totally don’t get the logic here! Again if you go to question these, they will bombard you with religious and traditional rules – Let’s take a look, shall we?
“It is reported that a man came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiAllahu anhu) to complain about his wife’s ill-temper. While he was waiting for ‘Umar to come out of his house, he heard ‘Umar’s wife scolding him and ‘Umar quietly listening to her, and not answering her back. The man turned around and started walking away, muttering to himself: “If that is the case with ‘Umar, the leader of the believers, who is famous for his uprighteness and toughness, then what about poor me?!” At that moment, ‘Umar came out of his house and saw the man walking away. He called him and said, “What is it you want of me, O man?” The man replied: “O leader of the believers, I came to complain to you about my wife’s bad-temper and how she nags me. Then I heard your wife doing the same to you, so I turned around, muttering to myself, ‘If that is the situation of the leader of the believers, then what about me?'” ‘Umar replied, “O my brother, I bear with her because of her rights over me. She cooks my food, bakes my bread, washes my clothes, breast-feeds my child…and yet none of these are her duty; and then she is a comfort to my heart and keeps me away from forbidden deeds. Consequently, I bear with her.” The man said, “It is the same with me, O leader of the believers.” ‘Umar said: “Then, O my brother, be patient with her, indeed this life is short. (Adh-Dhahabi, Al-Kabâ’ir 194)”
Aisha (raa) reported that whenever she was sick, the Prophet (saws) would come to her to show his sympathy. Nor, was he ashamed to let it be known that his love for his wife was greater then his love for any other human being. It is recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim that someone asked the Prophet: “Who among all the people is most beloved by you?” And he said “Aisha”.
The Prophet (saws) never held himself apart from his wives as if they were by their nature as women inferior. On the Contrary, he included “playing games with one’s wife” as one of the legitimate entertainment’s. According to the following Hadith:
“…….There is no amusement which is praiseworthy except three, namely training a horse, sporting with one’s wife and shooting arrows with a bow.” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi]
The Prophet’s (saws) attitude towards female children and female education is a beautiful elaboration of what is found in the Qur’an. The Qur’an not only forbade the jahiliyyah practice of female infanticide, but even condemned the practice of showing disappointment or anger over the birth of a female child. [Qur’an 16:58-59]
“Whoever brings up two sisters or two daughters, and gives them a broad education, and treats them well, and gives them in marriage, for him is Paradise.” [Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi]
A man asked Hadrat Aisha “What did The Prophet do at home?” Hadrat Aisha said He kept busy with housework. He patched His clothes, swept the house, milked the animals, and bought supplies for the house from the market. If His shoes were torn He mended them Himself. He tied the rope to the water bucket. He secured the camel, fed it and ground the flour with the slave.” (Bukhari)
“…And live with them in kindness…” (Quran 4:19)
The Messenger of God said, The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are the best to their women.’ [Tirmidhi]
“… And they (women) have rights (over their husbands…) similar (to those of their husbands) over them, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them…” [al-Baqarah:228]
The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa sallam) said: “There is no person to whom Allaah has given responsibility and dies neglecting that responsibility, but Allaah will deny him Paradise.” (Muslim)
The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa sallam) said:
“Fear Allah with regard to women, for you have taken them as a trust from Allaah…….” (Muslim)
“The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification; for such there will be a painful torment” [al-Shooraa:42]
Mu’awiyah ibn Al-Qushayri reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the rights of women over us?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You should feed her when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, do not strike her on the face, and do not rebuke her or separate from her except inside the house.
Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 2142
I could go on and on. I am sure most of you who thought Islam as an opressing religion would be surprised reading the above! People have been bending rules to suit their requirements from years! No where it is said that the woman is deemed to be in the kitchen forever, she has the right to education and other pleasures of life. She has the right to raise her voice against injustice done to her and even claim divorce from her husband. No where does it say that the Mother-in-law, or any in-law member for that instance, can exercise control over her and make her to serve them! Women are to be treated with respect and dignity. They are not instruments of pleasure! I am sure even other religion’s rules have been tarnished with in reagrds to women. I wouldn’t believe any religion would support any sort of violence!
So how can we bring a change to all this? My answer would be, ‘change will only happen if we stand up for ourselves. If we keep waiting for someone else to help us, it would never happen. Help will come only when we decide to help oursleves!’
I know this is easier said than done. A woman with no support of her parents, family or husband is just wasted away in life. I personally remember a girl complaining about getting married early and how she wanted to study further and be a teacher. I asked her why wouldn’t she oppose and she replied telling her parents wouldn’t agree, her opposing would cause them shame and there is nothing else she could do.
Another instance I remember is where an aunt of mine said let’s have lunch in the kitchen. I asked why not in the dining area, she replied telling this (kitchen) is where you would eventually end up so get used to it!
Yet another situation where a lady was suffering at the hands of her husbands emotional and physical torture, I asked why wouldn’t she just divorce him and go back to her family. She replied, ‘her parents wouldn’t accept her out of shame and she has no education to apply for job and feed her children herself. So its either suicide or life with husband for her.’ She continues to bear all this in silence for her children even now!
Being denied education just destroyed their whole life. They have no idea where to go for help in such situations. They continue living accepting this as their fate!
Is this how this problem should be dealt with? Don’t the Government, Religious scholars and other leaders of the society have no roles in educating people about the rights of women. Why are people just ignoring this area? Are they scared that if women are given their rights, they wouldn’t get to exercise their control over them and make them submit to their pleasures?
ISN’T THAT THE DIRTY TRUTH BEHIND ALL THIS?!
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