Opinion: International Women’s Day; How Far Have We Come
PKKH Exclusive | by Ayesha Akhtar
International Women’s Day (IWD), originally known as International Working Women Day is observed on 8th March every year to show respect, appreciation and love towards women and to commemorate their ongoing struggle, economic, social and political achievements. The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” while International Women’s Day 2013 has declared the year’s theme as “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum”.
Despite of living in 21st century, the women of today are still suffering from disrespect and harassment. The waves of feminist revolution which has dragged the women towards earning a living is taking its toll in other ways as well, empowering women economically but depriving them from other basic rights.
Are Women Really Empowered and Saved?
Women have got an important role in maintaining the equilibrium of the society. This balance has to be maintained for the proper functioning of society. Despite massive awareness campaigns about human rights through different organizations, women are still the prime victim of all criminal activities in one or the other way. The countries where women are considered to be the most empowered top all chart on such crimes. After their massive ‘struggle’ of feminism and by cashing the catching and appealing slogan of ‘Empowering Women’, the world still has to hide itself in shame when it comes to the gender discrimination, not limited to any one culture, ethnicity or country.
Since the 18th century’s first feminist movement, up till now, with every passing year, women are more abused, more harassed and more exploited. Today, HR orgs see women as empowered figures in many cultures, but in reality, she is merely presented as a sex commodity, resulting in more violent crimes such as rapes.
Let us take figures from UN itself and see whether, today world is a safer place for an ‘empowered commodity’ or women still suffer the plight it was suffering in the rotten history of dark ages.
A glimpse of worldwide women sufferings:
- 1 in 3 women have been beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. Usually the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.
- Boys who witness their fathers’ violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spouse abuse in later adulthood
- In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read
- Every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at, or on their way to, school
- Women and girls are 80% (640.000) of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually with the majority (505,600) trafficked for sexual exploitation.
- At least 60 million girls are ‘missing’ from various populations – mostly in Asia – as a result of infanticide, neglect or sex-selected abortions.
- Up to 5% of women report being physically abused while pregnant. 50% of physically abused Indian women report violence during pregnancy.
- Between 100 and 140 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. In six African countries over 80% of women have been subject to this practice.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides: 31.3 million in South Asia, 14.1 million in Sub-Sahara Africa. Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. (Source: UNRIC)
These are merely those ‘official’ figures that were collected by a body of UN. Apart from these reported crimes against women in general.
If we go through the figures of Rapes alone, we will be seeing a horrific picture of violence against women.
- In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS), and Home office released its first ever joint official statistics on sexual violence, according to which, approximately, 80000 women are raped on average in England every year, Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year, 1 in 5 women (aged 16-59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
- In India reported cases of rapes vary from 22000 to 15423 over the time period in 2010-2012. In 2012, again there was a spike in rapes of women in India. In Dehli alone a spike of 17% was observed officially. In famous rape of Dehli caught the spot light last year which brought people’s attention to world’s biggest democracy.
- In United States of America, an average of 207,754 cases of rapes was recorded over a time period of 2000-2007.
Let us take some figures of those countries, who claim to be most vigilant and aware in respect of women and who claim to empower women.
A Feminist Revolution, or Talking about Rights of Women, What is the Solution?
One of the prime requirements of the society in regard is that to understand an important issue that empowering women and freeing them from disrespect is not about being depriving them of the modesty in any way. The freedom should be from injustice and ought not to be by depriving them from the modesty and clothes.
Islam being a natural and balanced religion has stressed a lot upon the rights of women, has given the women their due status from which they were being deprived since centuries. As a matter of fact, Islam is the only religion in which the rights of women are emphasized a lot along with their duties. Women in every role have been considered important, be it as a mother, daughter, wife or sister; her part in the society has been immense. For her role as a mother, she is considered as a way to Jannah. Being a daughter, she is a blessing because according to one of the Hadith her up-bringing can protect one from the hellfire.
Role of women in a family system is of much more importance. Bringing her status equal to men and her part in maintaining a family has to be acknowledged. Educating the women is also a part of empowering them. There has been no discrimination regarding this in our religion and women are considered to be at par with men, acquiring education has been made compulsory for both.
At many other instances, both men and women are mentioned side by side in Quran signifying their equality as mentioned in the Surah Ahzaab verse 35 and Surah Ale-Imran verse 195.
West and the media, which have commercialized the women by using her for advertisement and making her existence a commercial commodity, this needs to be condemned strongly. Women are not the object to be equated with the commodities rather they should be given their due respect.
Educated women are synonymous with the educated and the generators of great nations. Empowering our women with education and enlightening them means nurturing an enlightened and strong nation because our mothers are our teachers in our cradle. Need of the hour is to liberate their thoughts, not their hormones.
The feminist revolution, which has empowered women socially and economically, has thrown to oblivion the fact that respect and love do not come with economic empowerment but with the ethical upbringing of the society. Need of the hour is to take into regard what Allah and His Prophet has ordained us regarding the rights and duties of the women. Let’s start considering the housewife as a full-day faithful employee, let’s return modesty to her work-place environment, let’s make them equal to our men in every opportunity to acquire their natural aspirations and finally let’s acknowledge whatever they are doing for nurturing our nation.
It is time for the world to revert to the Islamic solution for the real empowerment of the Woman; the power that comes from recognizing her natural inclinations and aspirations. It is time to throw the burdens of a false Western solution via feminism, that has done no good to her, to her children nor her family but only served to deprive and destroy them.
Ayesha Akhtar is a doctor in making, she is also a researcher and have in depth knowledge of Islamic creeds. She tweets @a4ambitious and can also be reached through her blog Doctoricious.wordpress.com
Discuss this topic on Defence.pk