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One of the most neglected aspects still existing in our society is the injustice women face particularly in forms of abuse. For the ultra-conservative mindsets, the notion of a man having an all right supremacy over his wife still exists and has resulted in horrifying results. This is backed up by several reports such as a recently released one by the Thompson Reuters Foundation which concluded Pakistan as being the fifth most dangerous country owing to non-sexual violence such as domestic abuse and sixth most dangerous owing to other risks such as honor killings.

And it isn’t surprising if you analyze the cruel stereotypes that have never found an end. An example is of the adage often found in Pakistani dramas which can be interpreted as,

“Now that you’re going to your husband’s house in marriage, come back at once in the form of a funeral.”

Most people fail to realize but this has had a devastating effect on women. It sets a precedent for the view that a woman must stay bound to her marriage regardless of her circumstances and that divorce is something to be ashamed for. I ask why? Where does Islam discourage divorce in the situation that two partners cannot be compatible with each other or when one partner is suffering abuse?

Nowhere because these are cultural practices rather than Islamic ones.

To solve this, the first step is to encourage partners to part their ways and not stick together for the sake of satisfying society or for a better future for there children. What provokes this idea is that when parents remain together in an unhappy marriage, this not only affects them but also affects their children who grow up with an unhealthy understanding of relationships. Moreover, it is time we realized that children would benefit much more from parents showing affection publicly rather than fighting each other as found in our society where the former is a phenomenon most shy away from and the latter is something no one shows reluctance in.

Moving on, the idea of marital rape also known as rape in marriage is another taboo that needs to be tackled. For those of you who don’t know, when a partner coerces or forces another to engage in sexual intercourse without any consent, it would be classified as such. Over 40 countries including Saudi Arabia, India, Sri Lanka, and Egypt have not criminalized it.

 

A disappointing aspect is that most of these countries have a Muslim majority but have failed to analyze the Shariah adequately to guard both men & women against this weapon. In Pakistan, rape is prohibited by Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code, however, the legal position on spousal rape still remains unclear. Even if we were to argue that with the flexibility provided by the law, marital rape can be charged, it doesn’t take much to realize that cultural barriers prevent even the reporting of such instances.

To corroborate this, Farahnaz Zahidi shared the story of a woman named Naila on The Express Tribune back in 2014 where the family of Naila responded to her pleas of such abuse with the following words,

You have to fulfill his needs. He has a right over you. Besides, your three sons will suffer. Think of them.

Trapped Marriages, Domestic Violence & Marital Rape - A Crisis

To solve this crisis, we must make our women aware of their rights, empower them by granting them the opportunities we wouldn’t hesitate in granting to the men of our society and talk about such subjects increasingly so more people could come out and seek help.

As if this wasn’t enough, let’s delve into domestic violence. A few days ago, one of my friend’s maid was beaten severely by her husband with belts making her bleed. She was taken in for the day by the household members and allowed to sleep in one of their rooms. Quite disappointingly, before midnight, her husband was called in and given a harsh lecture on the etiquettes of treating one’s wife and then simply let go. The wife also agreed to go back.

Let’s change the scenarios now.

Imagine, a daughter of the family itself was beaten like that, how would the family react? It doesn’t take an intellectual mind to figure out that a call to the police would have ensued locking up the perpetrator.

Trapped Marriages, Domestic Violence & Marital Rape - A Crisis

This very scenario exposes the hypocrisy present in every one of us, even the upper class who claims to be so honorable & chivalrous. These double standards could only be averted if we start taking a stand for others and thinking beyond ourselves in a selfless manner. We have had numerous activists that have stood up for women rights but true change won’t come until the masses embrace it and we are a part of the masses.

To wind-up without a mention of the injustices the men of our society suffer would be a great crime. According to a report in 2010 by a group named Parity in the UK, 40% of domestic abuse victims are men. Yet, statistics show that their call for help is met with a stigmatic reaction which urges them to conform with the normally perceived “macho” image and man-up. Furthermore, law enforcement authorities also fail to take the idea of men being victims of marital rape seriously. While we can conclude that women are more disadvantaged in society, it is important to enact legislation that is gender neutral and focuses on the issues of both genders.

Toxic masculinity is something needing to be dealt with as it allows a lot of incidents to go unchecked and the first step is to acknowledge both sides of the picture because, at the end of the day, justice is equality for all genders.

 

 

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