Women in a trap

By Sajida Shah

From my childhood, I always felt disappointments for being a girl. There were too many reasons of my disappointment. The most hurting situation was the discriminatory attitudes of my parents towards me and my brothers. This is the story of every other family in our society that, in comparison to daughters; sons are preferred more in every aspect of life. The common thoughts related to girls are; they are born to obey their parents and immediate others, to help their mothers in household chores, to cook food for their family and to wash clothes, household utensils and all other works within the boundaries of the house. On the other hand, sons are thought to be the future head of the family, so sisters are supposed to respect them. They are being preferred for giving education and other opportunities because they will be taking care of the family in future. These thoughts always bothered me, even to go against my parents and society. These discriminatory actions and behavior breed resistance inside every women that needs to be furnished and brought out.

When I studied women’s history (the matriarchal age) and compared their status then and now, I understood that it was never the fault of my parents only. The slavery of women has been systematically incorporated in the lives of women and the society. Literature evidences that there was no concept of family in the initial eras of human history. Men and women were used to work together for their common survival. When families started to develop, both men and women strived for proper shelter and to store extra food for the days of scarcity. For this purpose women started to work in fields and men used to go for prey. Most of the work was done by women in agriculture as well as in the houses, so they were responsible for the storage, distribution and other important work as compared to men. Additionally, Agriculture was the concept given by women and they were considered as the sign of fertility both in agriculture and in human race. These were the reasons that women came up with more power and respect in the Matriarchal era. In this era, women were the heads of tribes, and the name of the families were linked with the mother’s name. Moreover, the patrimony was also given to daughters in the family. Furthermore, the important religious beliefs and practices were also attributed with females, i.e. the concept of “Devi”.

Dr. Mubarak Ali wrote in his famous book “Tareekh Aur Aurat”,

“Women were using simple utensils for cultivation of crops, but when plough replaced those simple utensils, men started dominating the agricultural field due to physical strength, thus dominating the family as well.

Evolutionary history evidences that when the agricultural era was replaced by heavy industrial era, the use of heavy machinery started marginalizing the women and men started dominating the society. Although, industrial age brought many developments in the life styles and the level of comfort of people but the suppression of women reached at its peak during this era. Moreover, the industrial age also initiated wars and deepened the class system. The reason was that, man was considered physically powerful and strong workers were needed by this system for cultivation, for wars, and for constructions. This was another brutal step to marginalize women. This led to strengthen the feudal system and promulgated the state’s rule over common people including women. It also encouraged the dominance of men over women and the patriarchal society completely hijacked the once functional matriarchy.

Capitalism has always strived for surplus profit and it wanted fresh and strong men to run the industry and to cultivate the crops. Therefore, household chores were attributed as a responsibility of women by influencing the cultural and religious values. These all gender-based stigmas were generated very systematically so that capitalism would rise to its peak and at the same time men would dominate over women more reasonably. We can understand this phenomenon through a simple example from our daily life that when a worker comes home after working for 8-10 hours, he needs rest in order to be more productive for the next day. To entertain his resting phase, women are being used as a free labour. Though, she works 24/7 including domestic chores, child birth, child rearing, cooking food, washing clothes and making their men fresh for the next day “without any cost”. Why the services of women are free labour? Why they are supposed to obey only? Why they can’t exercise freedom as men do? There are lot more genuine questions to be asked and to be answered. At last, it is very obvious that the root cause of the suppression of women in the society is the capitalist mode of production. In my opinion, if women are get paid for all their work, there will be no conflict of equity & equality.

The contributor is the Vice-President 0f the National Students Federation, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh Zone

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  1. I don’t agree with whatever you wrote here. because no women is in trap at least in our society/area (Hunza). But if you think that you are in trap and you want to be free and disobey your parents and want to dominate your brothers as well, then please carry on.

    In my case there is no such discrimination in my family. Brothers and sisters are treated equally.


    1. well bro!!you have been so lucky that you never faced such situations… sounds good 🙂 however, in this articles she is talking about GB.nowhere in this article, she has specifically mentioned about Hunza .Here she has written her life’s story articulating with literature.. you might not know, how actually she suffered from! so please don’t criticize just for sake of criticism.

      Thank you

  2. If Hunzai people want to be developed society, please agree to this and amend the society which doesn’t agree their mistakes and cannot find a solution that never develop their society and future!

  3. The article provides a very brief but useful insight into the Hegelian dialectical process of history. However, reducing it to capitalism seems a bit reductionist to me. For sure, capitalism disturbs the gender relations in a society, but traditions, norms and especially religion also plays their roles in defining gender relations. I don’t agree with your conclusion of linking gender equality with economic equality because ignoring religious and traditional aspects, the approach of economic empowerment might result in women getting worse off with the rise in domestic violence and disturbing social relationships

  4. Thank you so much all for a nice feed back.

    Ghazanfar: You are very right in saying that the traditional and religious aspects can never be ignored in order to understand gender-based discrimination, but if you look at the Hegelian pyramid of capital, it clearly manifests that religion is a tool to protect capital. The capitalist system has made a hierarchy in a way that governments, religion, army, and even the working class protects the capital. So, if you present a critique on Capitalism, you automatically criticize all the pillars which support the capitalist system.

    1. Partially agreed :). But pre capitalist societies also had these unequal gender relations. The inequality in the hunters and gatherers societies exist too. No? But I agree, the rise of industrialization and colonialism has immensely exacerbated this position. I am a student of gender and I find this notion very complex.

      P.S Don’t be sad on some of the comments here. You are a brave girl to write about it. Kudos.

  5. Partially agree to the literature developed in the article,,, women rights, women empowerment and gender development are debating in all spheres,,,, we have many success stories about women and no discriminatory act entirely,,,, on the other hand i can’t totally ignoring the happenings in social circle and we can’t expect the perfection with Utopians approach. The article will work out to find solution around the theme in, rather then just focusing over issue. Similarly socio-economic development should be under discussing in the context of readers of realm. We have knowledge about the act women is an actor to violate women rights as mother. Regards

  6. Firstly I appreciate your efforts to come up with this right up.

    Secondly lot of questions arise about the systems of governance and which system has to be followed. I my opinion no system guarantees full equality for humans. Inequality is related to social ethos and as you mentioned through the course of time this balance of dominance was not fixed for any side. If we talk about dominance and prominence of any gender its long debate. What I think is a society must have common ground for both genders and even 3rd gender to prosper in all walks of life. We have to follow whats good for us and avoid which has negative effects in longer run. I must add that as a society we failed to evolve and adopt the positive changes through course of time and we must accept this fact.

  7. Making their men fresh for the next day “without any cost” !

    the way you had expressed this statement, totally diverted my mind from the core of topic, ultimately it is the main purpose of your opinion. I duly appreciate your thought regarding equity & equality, but again as Ghazanfar said ” that the traditional and religious aspects can never be ignored “.

    will you elaborate it that how can we integrate terms of equity & equality in perspectives of our norms and culture, including your point of capitalism ?

    1. yara345, I haven’t ignored the religious factor. Indeed I am saying that religion/culture, state, army and even the working class is a tool to protect capitalism.

      I endorse equity, and for a gender equitable society, i guess we all need to be fair with our selves. what I have observed in our society is that we exhibit dual natures. Our males in society like something for them but hate the same for their sisters and immediate others. We need gender mobilization, we need education and awareness to both men and women of our society to treat women fairly as they do for the men. I can ask a simple question that why male enjoy roaming around and having meals at public place and why girls can not? your answer lies in the answer of this question.

  8. Yours parent and brother cant reply on this articls because they are illetrate.. u are far away from ur home for education this mean ur brother and parent trap u.. shame. If ur brother and parent involve in ur decision then u think that they disappoint u. Our parent also guide us for right path but unfortunately specially girl think opposite them. If u were disappoint by ur parent then u would be in ur home. And doing the regular activities of home. No ur away from home for higher education. And now u feeling that ur family trap u..

    1. Grow up my brother, don’t be so selfish. talk about people other than you. that’s what I did. I have not written it about myself rather it is for every girl and as far as getting higher education far away from home is concerned, its not the only thing which proves gender freedom.

      1. I appreciate your words and thoughts of all feed backs
        Dear, I think your parents have not degraded and discriminated you rather they have favored you that’s why you are able to write and communicate your thoughts to others. By the way what language do you speak in your home? certainly not English. It’s your parents who made you able to do all this against them.They should be punished why they allowed you to get higher education. I reckon that you have wrote it just for the sack of publication not for showing the reality.
        Otherwise, I know well all your characters in the university.

      2. I’m also talking every girl. Old world in our society girl education are not focused. But today world with the grace of all mighty girl education is more focus then boy. Education is the main thing for gender discrimination. And all other thing are well set in our society. Trap of female also in our society but not as ur thought in this articles. If ur working for female then go ahead and 1000 other problem facing. Such as those society parent not permit girl upto matric. Not aware of the field of study for girl choice, worry about girl to study in another city, so many other, sorry if u feel something wrong

      3. He is saying absolutely right.
        By the way what do you mean by freedom?i think you feel bad when your parents tell you not to indulge in bad things and do good things. and you call this a trap, you want to be free like animals wandering here and there without any special aim in their life.
        After thinking about the activities of modern girls and boys (especially girls) in cities i don’t think they deserve freedom.

  9. i appreciate your struggle against gender discrimination and also what you have written in above article but i do not fully agree with you that in our society or particularly in our community such mindset is still existing that women is considered as second as men. may be in some cases you are write but do not generalize it. we have many women working in key posts we have many women in better position then man. read holy farameen of molana hazar imam in early 80s mola emphasize on girls education. i have epmarical evidence that my grandfather was first person in my villege to send his daughter to school in early 80s i dont agree with you that everywhere woman is treated as you said in your writing. you may disagree with my openion.
    thank u

  10. The discrimination of women, perceived or real is rampant in society, culture and religion. Even God’s gender historically is musculine. Female CEOs of multinationals in USA also complaint of being discriminated against (they are paid less than men in similar position) . A vast majority of human beings even today look at the world through the prism of culture and religion (both of which predate modern thought) so unfortunately this trend will continue for a large number of girls in the near future. Some one quipped about Hunza society, the true perspective would be that its only marginally better than the surrounding societies.

  11. you are brave to talk about it thumbs up for you. i don`t know what is your real situation back there but i am sure that you are you have the heart to write about impact of society on your parents the most important couple of your life and your brothers who are a just a part of you. we can have a changed society if we have few more brave girls like you (Y)

  12. Very well articulated and addressed the issues of gender discrimination. It is important to encourage such efforts and contributions which motivates the society to think over different aspects of the society though comparatively the level of discrimination and issues varies from place to place and even in communities but even than the factor of discrimination always exist. Generally the ratio of dependency is perpetrated through social, educational, and economic institutions. Different boundaries are made and limitations are imposed upon women based on gender orientations, the limitations are socially constructed which includes religious ideologies, family restrictions etc.
    Women plays their role in development however the contributions and efforts are not measured and acknowledged even helping men in their household activities provide space for men to independently strive for income generation and other factors of development. We need to endorse and acknowledge the efforts and contributions of women in our societies and avoid discrimination based on sex and gender. (My own perception and is my personal thought)

  13. Sajida bibi your mainly focus is that you also want roaming in public like a boy. That is what u want equality of male and female. I’m 100% if you going to america for education then your parent and relative front to support you. But if u go there and adopt their culture then our parent not permit. sorry if you want that type of equality..

  14. You have well put the gender-based discriminatory phenomenon with the integration of historical facts. and all those men, who are barking here against what you have written should understand that its you thinking and communication which proves what she have written about this male dominant society. Don’t be personal with some one, if you have knowledge and guts, counter argue with something logical. Well done Sajida Shah, don’t get hurt by these comments, they reflect the truth in your article.

    تندِ بادِ مخالف سے نہ گھبرا اے عُقاب
    یہ تو چلتی ہے تجھے اونچا اُڑانے کے کئے

  15. I would have appreciated this article. if it was written in late 80,s and in 90,s.. but well written. appreciate it

  16. Harsh words for the writer! No offence, Chuss hai!
    Don’t misguide the society by writing crap like that. It is good only up-to your ‘good writing skills’ else is just a made up. I know women in my family, I know women in my village, I know women all over upper Hunza. They are all equal. I remember that one time, when I read the Personal Statement of a girl from from my college. She was from Ishkoman, Ghizar, who was applying for a one full semester UGRAD program in the US. She had written all the similar very crap, which the writer has written in the article above. But within one month, when she had reached the LA Int. Airport in the US, she was ‘Looking for my Boyfriend’ in her Facebook status. Like, she was being more modern, even then the Ghoras over-there.
    The thing which I want to deliver her by this very instance is that it has became a mind-set among the young ladies of our society that women’re not given enough rights. Please cut it!

    1. Kamran Abuzar: don’t spread shame for the men of GB. It might be your personal opinion about the girls and women of GB but I am also a male from Gilgit Baltistan and I extend my fullest support to whatever a girl/women wants to do or too choose for herself. Who are you to suggest a girl that when and what status should she upload on her face book. You are reflecting the similar Talibani Mindset by such comments. If Women in Hunza are free and equal as men why the rape cases are increasing in Hunza and in rest of Gilgit-Baltistan. Come on man, get out of this denial phase and accept the reality that we, as men have never accepted women equal to us.

      In Solidarity with all oppressed women! Peace for all.

      1. Mr. The99%, man you’re in no position to call me a ‘taliban’. I suppose you’ve not scanned through what I’ve written above. I am neither being a chauvinistic, nor am I in favor of women oppression. I just wanted to deliver that it is not a fact that women are being oppressed in Hunza. By giving the instance of the Facebook status thinge I meant to say that that very girl had written crap about women oppression in Ishkhman but I knew that fact that she had never lived in Ishkoman and was risen in Karachi but she did that only to get the scholarship of UGRAD.

  17. The way you have given your example on discrimination is totally wrong.you should compare your education and your brothers.your brothers are uneducated you and your sister get education .you are blaming your parents and brother why? today you are on this stage is because of your parents and your brother they did every thing for your education. specially your brother worked hard for your education and today you are blaming him .you should respect them.
    As wellas discrimination between son and daughter is concerned there is no discrimination in our society son and daughter are free to take there own decision .parents are focusing more on girls education ,girls are choosing freely there professional life and even there life partners on there on will.this is enough.

  18. Here you are all generalizing thing ……….. although today women are free to get education in universities if 20 out of 100 are giving so called freedom that doesn’t mean every other women has the same situation. girls are allowed to get education but still there are set boundaries for them that what to do and what to not on the same time there were no boundaries for boys why…..???????????? if society treated girls and boys equally than why boundaries set for girls and why not for boys……. In addition to these girls are kept at home to protect herself from males this means that here female is not bad but male is bad female is insure just because of men then it should made compulsory for men to sit at home and don’t let them go out of home because they endanger women and one who endanger other lives should stay at home, psychiatric ward or jail but unfortunately this would never happen.FREEDOM…… means freedom of expression of speech,freedom of expression…., if some girls are free to get education this is the result of their hard-work there is no any role of society.Every one should admit the fact that there is a discrimination between MALES and FEMALES……. and strive to abolish it.

  19. Excellent baby! you have done a good job, further you need to elaborate your article by adding some Quranic verses to support your ideology. You have attracted most of the men’s comments but female comments are lacking in this regard.

  20. I do appreciate the opinion of the author all about historical perspective as well as role of women in different societies. What i understand, its a very general opinion about gender inequity in our society. Not necessarily, its 100% correct. Its situations may vary within our society between the families and area to area. Let me quote a small incident which compels me to say to some extent gender inequity is a bitter reality of our society of the GB. Back in 2000 I was associated with IUCN-MACP on a training progamme. Part of my training I had to conduct a small survey on education in a part of Skardu city.

    During my survey with the help of local support person i went door to door and most cases I came across with women. I found mostly girls not going to school or dropped out from School. When I questioned why your daughter is not going to school? Mostly women answered that the boys are going to school and they don’t have sufficient money for girls. But, then i kept on questioning, how about if get sick who looks after you in the hospital? Their reply was a female doctor or nurse? Where the doctor comes from? Their final answer was Punjab. I kept on exploring, what if your daughter becomes a doctor one day and looks after you? They agreed to this reality but unfortunately, to the best of my opinion they were lacking awareness that a girl equally deserves care, love and opportunity what a boy stands for?

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