By Qaisar Sultan
How societies and culture figure out what is religious and what is within the helm of purely human free well and reasoning is the defining element of intellectual maturity. What is within the reason should be within the helm of any religion; any argument above and beyond reason is nothing more than a cult like approach to religion. We see that in the most developed societies such as American society comes in the grip of religious fervor where the conservative religious leaders try to impose their religious view on those who differ from their view of what is Godly and what is not. Recently, the debate of the medicine for contraception should be allowed to women in the religious organizations has captured the American collective reflection on how far they should allow the religious leaders to dictate their personal lives. The religious extremists find it Unholy to ask for the women’s right to make decision on her health and future of her life regarding to abort or conceiving a child or not. It is always about following the instruction of what they call the final edict somewhere in the Holy Book. The men have dominated the decision making process throughout the antiquated social system that has to do with women health and welfare. We see the worst approach opted by some fanatical men, wearing the robe of deception; they would decide what is godly and what is not. We note this male dominated decision making process not only on the government level; we also experience the male chauvinistic absolutist approach by the orthodox religious leaders. There is definitely harsh and insolent attitude of conformist opinion that puts down the women as a gender. The nondescript outlook of some extreme corner on the religious side is represented as neutral and respectful to women and at the same time subtle hints of a subservient woman is being appreciated and expected.
Is it the fault of any religion to give women an inferior status? The answer is absolutely a big “No”. Or is religion responsible for the repression of women? Here we find that the answer becomes more complicated. People belonging to different religions would say that absolutely not; it is almost blasphemy to misinterpret their religion in such a wrong mannerism and by suggesting such a thing is to put their religion on trial; or these are the words of someone seeking the doors of hell. But the fact is that the ways religions have been described and practiced have put women in an inferior position to men, more or less depending on the regions and sects in different religions. There is no doubt that the enlightened and educated segment of most cultures treat women with some extent of fairness; but if we look at the rural areas and uneducated masses, specially in the third world countries and most Muslim states, the women have very little rights. The problem is that the male dominated cultures exploit religion to keep women down as third class citizens. What is more troublesome is that women themselves degrade their own status by expounding the problem by supporting the men’s view based on religious and cultural traditions. For example, women committed suicide or jumped in burning fire in India. Women thought that they were doing something very holy to die with the husband. Does it make any sense in the modern time?
The most important aspect of injustice to women gender is the denial of her right to the fair share of the property. As we know that the whole legal system was basically designed to protect the rights of the property that was supposed to be the natural rights of all human beings. The men get most of the property owned by the fathers. The blindness required in the matters of religions is such that if you challenge them, those who should be the beneficiary of the argument would take side of the misrepresentation of the faith.
When you bring the modesty issue, it seems that the women again have to carry the burden of holding the promise of humility and men get away with murder, meaning they find themselves free from any religious accountability. What seems to be fair is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In old Indian society men would go to listen and enjoy the dance and song of the prostitutes and the wives would know and approve the filthiness of male stupidity and callousness. Then those men would turn around and posed themselves as godly and pray and fast. It was not the religion that taught them to be pitiless; it was the society built on false assumption of what religious values would allow and who would be punished for the transgressions. Those religious men would keep their women, wives and daughters hidden behind seven walls that no other men would be able to look at them or the women would be in a position to have a look at another men, even innocently. They were so proud of that behavior that they would talk about the stupidity designed to have the upper hand.
But the world is changing as fast as we are walking on it. If we look at progressive societies, we find that the women are fighting for their rights and denuding the equal rights. In USA, China, Europe, Korea and japan women have taken over stronger and respectful position. There is no doubt that Pakistani women have shown the courage and talent to be a lot more prominent than ever before. The real problem exists in the rural areas where women have been exploited, tortured and punished as weaker gender that has to come to its end. The women on power and positions should fight for the rights of poor women. We read and hear the women of straw being punished in the street by forcing them to run naked, young girls are being rapped, children taken away by the husbands by force and after the divorce, the property rights stay with the men. Without string strong women, a society can’t produce a strong culture. We all learn our values through our mothers; they become the model of young men and women. Let us all fight for the rights of poor women who have been exploited in the name of religion and cultural values, The women is a free as men under religiously influenced societies is simply hogwash!