BY Fahad Faruqui
March 14, 2012
Hurrah! For Pakistan
has finally criminalised domestic violence against women and children.
Offenders will face a minimum of six months behind bars and Rs.100,000 ($1,100)
Every time I hear news
of a man using physical force on his wife and children, I become furious. What
is further infuriating is that as a man, to react the way I do is deemed
strange. For some godforsaken reason it is widely accepted that it's a man's prerogative
to correct women by force, especially if they are ungrateful (whatever that
means) and if they don't obey the commands of their husbands.
Women who have been in
such situations tell me that a wife can be beaten up for something as trivial
as excessively salting food.
What astonishes me is
the feedback I get on having strong views against domestic violence. While men
try to justify abusive acts by putting the blame on the hypothetical woman for
making the man go berserk, women tend to give me sympathetic looks, assuming
that, perhaps, I grew up seeing my mother battered.
In reality, my
upbringing has nothing to do with my views on domestic violence. In my view,
violence towards women and children is the most heinous act a man can commit.
Period. The need to overwhelm a woman by exerting force leads me to conclude
that there's a deeper problem with the people involved, more specifically with
the man, and the nature of their relationship.
Though I am not
married, I have had my share of quarrels with friends. The only way it is
possible to have a healthy relationship is to curtail the ego and listen
intently to one another. The act of beating your mate with the intent to cause
bodily harm epitomises a monster of an ego.
The perception that a
woman in marriage is property of the man is the root of the problem.
Every so often, I see
men, educated men, who boast about not giving their wife the right to seek
divorce. I don't particularly understand the thinking behind encaging a woman,
who wants a divorce. Perhaps, it's the sadistic mentality at play.
There's another facet
of the "women as property" mindset that is hard to reckon with.
Marital rape is seemingly quite common in Pakistan according to anecdotal
evidence, though I don't have the statistics and there is no way to get an
accurate number in a country where beating a woman is deemed okay, but filing a
complaint against an abusive, overpowering husband is a taboo.
I told Dawn's blog
editor to think of this article as a message from one man (a male feminist, if
you will) to another man. She kindly responded by writing: "I like the way
you put it." And there is a reason for this: A woman may feel the dire
need to protect another woman, but men should be equally concerned about the
abuse of women.
Paradoxically, men who
don't think twice about taking a swing at their wives often get worked up if a
man beats the heck out of their loved one. You're a hypocrite if you think that
it is okay for you to bash your wife, but not okay for your father to beat your
mother or for your brother-in-law to beat your sister, or for your son-in-law
to beat your daughter. The woman you're married to is someone's daughter and
most probably someone's sister. And it is very clear in my mind that you should
treat others in the manner that you would like you and yours to be treated.
What irks me the most
is when abusive husbands use religion as a license for beating (so to speak)
ungrateful and disloyal women. Read the last sermon of the prophet, peace and
blessings be upon him, which says in clear words: "Treat your women well
and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers."
There is really no room for misinterpretation here.
Those men who mock
their partners in life by saying that they've learned from the local mullah
that there will be more women in hell because they disobey their husbands
should consider reading up on what the religion actually says.
Turning a blind eye to
the rights of women is an immense disservice to the woman who gave birth to
you, your sisters, your wife, and your daughter.
I have been thinking
about how certain men perceive women since my college days. I remember a
disturbing encounter with two men, from a feudal background, one of whom said:
"Women are like toilet paper, we use them and trash them." I
instantly asked: "What about your mother and sisters?" and the
dynamic of the conversation dramatically changed.
That evening my mother
saw me contemplating on a leather recliner in my lounge If my memory serves me
well, the year was 1999. That mind-shaping encounter led me to think about
morals and ethics more deeply. And there is one thing I can say with finitude:
your life partner and your children are precious and should be treated in the
manner you would treat something precious.
The writer is a journalist, writer and educator.
Source: The Daily Star