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Women’s Rights in Pakistan

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    Women’s Rights in Pakistan

    This is in todays New York Times, an Op-Ed essay, that some of you will find very disturbing. It talks about Womens Rights issues in Pakistan, and how the reality of the ground is so much different than what the government claims it to be. Very sad.

    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/18/opinion/18KRIS.html

    Women's Rights: Why Not?
    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

    SLAMABAD, Pakistan We now have a window into what President Bush and America's senators think of the world's women: Not much.
    An international women's treaty banning discrimination has been ratified by 169 countries so far (without emasculating men in any of them!), yet it has languished in the United States Senate ever since President Carter sent it there for ratification in 1980. This month the Senate Foreign Relations Committee got around to holding hearings on it, but the Bush administration, after shyly supporting it at first, now is finding its courage faltering.
    The support came from Colin Powell's State Department, but then John Ashcroft's Justice Department found out about the treaty and seems to be trying to defend America from the terrifying threat of global women's rights. You'd think he might have other distractions, like fixing the F.B.I., but the Justice Department is conducting its own review of the treaty in what looks suspiciously like an effort to eviscerate it.
    I wish Mr. Ashcroft could come here to Pakistan, to talk to women like Zainab Noor. Because, frankly, the treaty has almost nothing to do with American women, who already enjoy the rights the treaty supports opportunities to run for political office, to receive an education, to choose one's own spouse, to hold jobs. Instead it has everything to do with the half of the globe where to be female is to be persecuted until, often, death.
    Mrs. Noor, a pretty woman with soft eyes and a gold nose ring, grew up in the Pakistani countryside, and like her three sisters she never received a day's education. At the age of 15 she was married off by her parents, becoming the second wife of the imam of a local mosque. He beat her relentlessly.
    "He would grab my hair, throw me on the floor and beat me with sticks," she recalled. Finally she ran away.
    Her husband found her, tied her to the bed, wired a metal rod to a 220-volt electrical outlet and forced it into her vagina. Surgeons managed to save her life, but horrific internal burns forced them to remove her bladder, urethra, vagina and rectum. Her doctor says she will have to carry external colostomy and urine bags for the rest of her life.
    At least she survived. Each year about one million girls in the third world die because of mistreatment and discrimination.
    In societies where males and females have relatively equal access to food and health care, and where there is no sex-selective abortion, females live longer and there are about 104 females for every 100 males. In contrast, Pakistan has only 94 females for every 100 males, pointing to three million to seven million missing females in that country alone. Perhaps 10 percent of Pakistani girls and women die because of gender discrimination.
    In most cases it is not that parents deliberately kill their daughters. Rather, people skimp on spending on females just like Sedanshah, a man at an Afghan refugee camp I visited near here. When his wife and son were both sick, he bought medicine for the boy alone, saying of his wife, "She's always sick, so it's not worth buying medicine for her."
    At Capital Hospital here in Islamabad, a nurse named Rukhsana Kausar recalled fraternal-twin babies she had treated recently. At birth, the girl twin weighed one pound one ounce more than the boy. At seven months, their position was reversed: the boy weighed one pound 13 ounces more than his sister.
    Critics have complained that the treaty, in the words of Jesse Helms, was "negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical anti-family agenda into international law" and is "a vehicle for imposing abortion on countries that still protect the rights of the unborn."
    That's absurd. Twenty years of experience with the treaty in the great majority of countries shows that it simply helps third-world women gain their barest human rights. In Pakistan, for example, women who become pregnant after being raped are often prosecuted for adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. But this treaty has helped them escape execution.
    How can we be against that? Do we really want to side with the Taliban mullahs, who, like Mr. Ashcroft, fretted that the treaty imposes sexual equality? Or do we dare side with third-world girls who die because of their gender, more than 2,000 of them today alone?

    #2
    This Mrs. Noor that you mentioned, this incident happened back in the Benazir regime, about 8 years ago, and she was personally sent to London by Benazir herself for medical treatment and her husband was dealt with appropriately... I do not think it highlights the lack of rights of women in Pakistan... It was just a case where a deplorable human being and a wife beater went mad...

    Comment


      #3
      Spock, Thats exactly the problem, when people say that nothing is wrong with Pakistan, or these are isolated incidents, etc. It is like living in a state of denial as nothing is wrong with Pakistan (in terms of Womens right). how about the following?

      >>>At Capital Hospital here in Islamabad, a nurse named Rukhsana Kausar recalled fraternal-twin babies she had treated recently. At birth, the girl twin weighed one pound one ounce more than the boy. At seven months, their position was reversed: the boy weighed one pound 13 ounces more than his sister.<<<

      Pakistan is by far way ahead of many other countries (particularly the Gulf Arabs) in terms of Womens rights. But it still has a very very long way to go.

      Comment


        #4
        Referring to such incidents as "isolated cases" is exactly the reason why our country remains backwards in dealing with these issues.

        Why do we continue to lend a blind eye to them? Why is even one case not one too many?

        Where are those people that say women are safer in Pakistan than they are anywhere in the world? What explanation do they have for this type of behaviour?


        Spock,

        Would you be more convinced that we have a serious problem if I were to post information about more recent cases? How about a woman that had her husband sit on her and slice off her nose?

        Perhaps you would like to read about several cases where women have been doused with oil/fuel and burned alive?

        Maybe some real-life references to women that have had acid splashed on their faces?

        What will it take to make people like you understand?



        [This message has been edited by Muzna (edited June 18, 2002).]

        Comment


          #5
          If woman has got the might then she has got all the rights. Begum Abida Hussein is an example.

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            #6
            khan_sahib,

            Please elaborate.

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              #7
              Muzna, but these incidents dont prove women have no rights in the country... For example, if you were one of them, had so many rights, but one day your husband started beating you up badly, at that time your rights wont stop him from beating you up... People doing such a terrible thing are crazed and just because you have rights wont stop him from beating you up... That was the point I was trying to make... Such incidents also happen in advanced countries and have read many reports of such wife beaters in the US...

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                #8
                I would like to know more about the treaty before endorsing it hands down.

                Though its no secret that a boy is preferred over girls among Pakistani masses. This preference is not at birth but later down in life. The educated Pakistanis tend not to differentiate but they are in minority when compared to 60% totally uneducated people.

                If taken example per example, I can assure you, you will find more examples like the ones stated above then Abida Hussein.

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                  #9
                  If youre saying that women have no rights in Pakistan Muzna, then you should realize that they will never get rights unless they are educated...

                  Women dont even know their present rights in Pakistan, so how can they avail them without the basic knowledge about them

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                    #10
                    Spock,

                    Agreed. Men beat up women all over the world. The only difference is the frequency and the degree of violence. And even if you were to prove to me that those factors are equals, I will still be staunch on the subject because at least in other parts of the world, the practice is frowned upon.

                    In Pakistan, men get away with this type of behaviour without so much as a reprimand. Why? Because the law and societal norms/beliefs allow them to.

                    When will we see a man severely punished for harming a woman in our country?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Muzna:

                      When will we see a man severely punished for harming a woman in our country?
                      While I see what your saying, the above comment is a bit of an exxageration.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Spock:
                        If youre saying that women have no rights in Pakistan Muzna, then you should realize that they will never get rights unless they are educated...

                        Women dont even know their present rights in Pakistan, so how can they avail them without the basic knowledge about them
                        This basic knowledge is also about rights. Education is a right and not a priviledge. In South Asia, men are given this right while the women are not.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          In Pakistan, education is not a right for women...

                          Even if the Pakistani Government increases the rights of women ten folds, what good will it do for women who do not even know these rights exist for them... Some of these women wouldnt even go to report the incident if they are badly beaten up...

                          Education for the women first, thats what im saying... btw, dont think that im one of those ppl who is against womens rights in anywayz...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You are contradicting yourself. Unless you make education a universal right regardless of sexual orientation (Includes mullah's with affinity towards lil boys), you can't say that it's a realization issue for women. Women knwo it already and crave equal protection and rights universally. it is a realization issue for the male dominated end. Men should read the fine print of the universal laws and not stand in the way of their sisters, wives, mothers, daughters to work, go to school, make more money than they themselves could ever think of making.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Spock and Muzna, you are both right at what you are saying.

                              I think our problem about women has more to do with cultural defects. And the fact that illiteracy is still so widespread you can't avoid such incidents.

                              Our system is too intermediate between secularism and sharia, which is why we cant seem to solve such issues. If you propose secular solutions you face religious counter activity and vice versa.

                              But on the whole I think I would agree with Muzna, that our judicial system needs overhauling and such incidents instead of going upreported or unchecked should be made examples by pusinhment no matter how brutal the punishment is ....

                              Keep doing it for 6 months people will get the idea of it. Hamaari qom daanday se hi baaz aati hai, in ki quqaat hi ye hai ..

                              ------------------
                              Its our Wits that make us MEN .... 'Braveheart'

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