Friday May 17, 2024

Alarm at ever-widening misogynist fringe

By Anil Datta
June 18, 2016

Rights organisations slam savage attacks on women,demand action against Senator Hamdullah and Maulana Sherani


Members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), the Human Rights Commission (HRCP) and the civil society have expressed alarm over the savage attacks that have been perpetrated on women in Pakistan over the last few weeks with frightening regularity. 

Speaking at a joint press conference held at the Karachi Press Club on Friday afternoon, they quoted the case of a girl who was burnt alive on the orders of a Jirga for helping her friend marry a man of her own choice. They also spoke of the case of a young teacher who refused to be drawn into an arranged marriage and was burnt alive in Murree. 

Then they quoted a case where blood relatives murdered youngsters who resorted to love marriage. They said that since 2008, 3,000 women had been eliminated that way.

Mehnaz Rehman, head of the Aurat Foundation, said that the civil society was well within its right to ask, “Are women not human? If they are, then what right has anybody to tether them to a stile as if they were cattle or goats?” 

A woman, she said, had all the right to decide on her choices for her future just the way men did. “This is something which is allowed by our religion, our constitution and all international covenants Pakistan has signed.”

Rehman said that all these shameful incidents against women were discrediting our religion and our state worldwide. “Our religion doesn’t allow this kind of cruelty on women. The role of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) in sparking off the recent events is very significant.”

She said: “We demand that the CII be wound up. In any case, we have elected representatives in the legislative assemblies who frame laws according to the constitution and the people’s wishes. As such, the CII is redundant.”

However, she regretted that the statements of Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani had encouraged the misogynists in the assemblies to make anti-women statements. 

Social activist Farhat Parveen said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must take action against  Maulan Sherani and Senator Hafiz Hamdullah, who, in a recent TV talk show, threatened a woman journalist and her mother with superlative infamy. 

She demanded of the prime minister and the Senate chairman to take immediate action against the two. 

Mustafa Gurgaze of the Pakistan Fisherfolks Forum said that there was no room in the constitution for an MNA to hold a government office. As such Sherani’s appointment to the post was unconstitutional.

Asad Butt of the HRCP said that this unhappy situation was the result of the age-old tribal and feudal system. These systems, he said, suppressed all disempowered people. “These feudals and tribals are the ones who make the laws,” he said. They had signed international covenants on the rights of women and yet they were violating them, he said.

Habibuddin Junaidi, trade union leader, said: “We, the workers and trade unions, strongly condemn the treatment of women like in the practice of Karo-kari and the burning alive of women.”

He quoted the Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to the first legislative assembly of Pakistan of August 11, 1947, which ensured the equality of all citizens of the emerging state, including the minorities and women. 

He said there were so many examples of women who had done Pakistan proud like Benazir Bhutto and Madar-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah, who had the gall to take up cudgels against dictator Ayub Khan.

The speakers were of the view that Pemra should also play an active role in erasing this misogynist set-up. They also pleaded for journalist Marvi Sarmad’s security, who was being threatened for her views in the talk show.