By Sana Humayoun
“Mein tumhara shohar hoon, marnay ka haq hai mera!”
“Islam mai biwi ke ooper haath uthanay ki ijazat hai.”
How many times do we come across such statements in our daily lives? Well, I’ve heard about such statements several times, mostly from people around me, my friends, relatives and colleagues. One such instance happened with my maid herself. I clearly remember how when I was young and my maid used to live in the empty plot next to ours and I used to listen to her cries every night, and the screams of her husband from the window of my room. I also remember the bruises on my maid’s face. I could feel what she must have felt just by looking at them. When her husband used to be confronted by one of the elders of our family, he would straight forwardly say that it was his right as her husband to treat her however he liked.
I also very clearly remember this one time when my sister, my cousin, and I were up late and early morning, we could hear crazy beating, screaming, crying voices from one of our neighbors’ house. We didn’t know how to react. The scream of that woman could tell us what would be happening with her in there. We, not knowing what else to do, called up the police station and asked them to take an immediate action against this and come stop this. They did come for help, except they couldn’t figure out which house exactly the noise was coming from so they decided to give up on it. When we called to ask them why they left, they said, “mian biwi ka mamla hai, unkay ghar ka mamla hai, chorain aap loge”. That day I realized how much trouble we all are in, majorly because of our thinking. After all, it’s our thinking that makes us act the way we do.
These are just a few incidents that I’ve encountered around me, there are so many more that happen every day around us, and sadly, this doesn’t only happen with the uneducated sect of our society, but very well educated people believe that it’s their RIGHT to hit and beat their wives. As for those who use religion to justify these acts of violence, yes, it is no doubt mentioned in the Quran that a very light beating of your spouse is allowed incase she’s wronged you (verse 34 of Surah an-Nisa, abbreviated as 4:34), BUT not at all in the way that’s practiced by our society. As it is, there are millions of other things mentioned in the Holy Quran, what else do we practice so religiously?
According to a few researches, the men in our society use this as a way to boost up their egos and prove their dominance. But what they don’t realize is, that this has a very negative and adverse effect on their married life, and most importantly, their children. Children lose all their confidence when they see such instability in their households. After all, who likes their parents fighting, and that too physically? These are the children that then go into depression, and also get involved into drugs and start using other inappropriate means for getting rid of their depression. They also get distracted, can’t concentrate on their studies, hence performing poorly in exams, and end up getting drawn away from their studies. Now, this might either lead them to learning from their parents mistakes and becoming exemplary parents in the future, or they might end up not wanting to get married at all, or worse, they could do exactly the same thing that had happened in front of them as kids because they don’t see anything wrong in it.
The factors linked with domestic violence in Pakistan are low-economic status of women, lack of awareness about women rights, lack of education, false beliefs, imbalanced empowerment issues between males and females, male dominant social structure and lack of support from the government. This can be solved by holding different types of social marketing campaigns creating awareness in women as to what their rights are religiously, and otherwise. Proper religious and Islamic knowledge needs to be instilled in the minds of people regarding this whole issue. Also, the government needs to be strict in enforcing laws related to domestic violence and there should be a firm and adamant punishment in regard to it. In my opinion, the dramas and shows that are shown on our TV channels also have a huge part to play. Most of them show a dominant male beating his wife around, whereas the wife is shown to be extremely very submissive, and they only show her crying and not taking a stand. If, rather than showing so much violence, they start showing love and respect between the two, people would take a good example from it and might also get influenced. Hence, our dramas and shows really should focus on showing positivity rather than negativity all the time.
Another very important factor in men behaving this way is their anger control issues. We tend to ignore the fact that help is needed from both sides. The abuser needs to go for psychological counseling and should have anger management therapy, while the victim needs counseling to recover her sense of self and individuality, to make her more liberated and self-assured. Again, to create awareness, not only should all the victims and abusers be educated in this regard, but everyone needs education and a lot of learning about this very important issue being faced by our country, ruining our present, and our future. And for this purpose, we all need to be the mediums of education and learning all around us, for if we won’t, who will?
The contributor is a student at IoBM, Karachi.