My Urdu Op-ed published at Urdu Times, December 07, 2012
It can be read at the following PDF file. I also share an English synopsis below.
Azadi e Niswan Kay Zammarud ka Gulu Bund (Freedom of Women or an Emerald Collar)
(Liberation of Women or an Emerald Collar?)
The article borrows the title from a verse of Muslim poet Iqbal.
Discusses the phenomenon of alarms and the red lights that come up whenever the activists in religious societies raise the subject of freedoms for women. Citizens of the Muslim societies, read, listen and observe the criticism that Muslim activities have to face when they discuss or propagate rights for women.
Women are considered subordinate to men, in all religious scriptures, and have to obey the orders of men. Most of the rules and orders regarding women’s behavior are based on the societal concepts of morality.
Whenever in the Muslim societies the rights of women are discussed the proponents are accused of propagation of immorality and nudity.
In the Muslim societies many a times the Quranic verses are quoted where men are made responsible for the sustenance and security of the society, and these verses are used to subordinate the women. Some other Quranic verses are also quoted that suggest that women may be a degree less than men in certain attributes. None of these verses or Quranic injunctions stop the women from earning their livelihood or not having the same rights as men.
The books: “Islam, Women, and the Challenges of Today”, and “Unveiled”, written by Farzana Hassan, a Canadian Muslim activist and former president of Muslim Canadian Congress are proposed to understand the interpretations of Quran pertaining to women.
Reiterates that when Muslim activists raise the issues of women’s rights, they essentially include: The rights; of education, choice in marriage, employment and economic earning, equal compensation for jobs, to take part in politics, to become the head of state, freedom for family and societal violence, protection against rape and sexual violence, freedom from forced marriages to meet imposed tribal and societal values, freedom from forced parading naked in public, freedom from acid attacks and physical mutilation, the right of divorce, right to choose their own dress, adequate economic rights of inheritance , economic rights in case of divorce and widowhood. These activists also struggle to save the women from men’s slavery as a result of any societal r religious tradition.
Respectfully rejects some arguments even by educated Muslim women that claim that their religion and scriptures give equal rights to women.
Women in the West have struggled for several hundred years to achieve the rights and freedom that include the voting franchise, education, and equality with men.
Despite strong democratic traditions in the U.S., no woman has ever yet become the head of state and that the proportion of women in the Congress is still very low. However due to their struggle women in the West have achieve some freedom, rights, and equality and their struggle continues.
Suggests that in countries like Pakistan where the state has provided better representation to women in political process, women have tried to obtain some rights and religious parties have been compelled to support them. In a country like Pakistan, women have become head of state and Speaker of the Parliament. Their struggle goes on.
Suggests that the Muslim countries will remain underdeveloped unless women achieve equal rights and due share in the economics and political spheres.
Activists in the Muslim societies remain duty bound to continue to raise the issues of freedom of women and equal rights for all.