Are Women in Pakistan really oppressed?

Abeer Qutab
6 min readDec 16, 2020

Referring to the majority of the women out there, the answer would be a big Yes? How? Well, let’s see. Pakistan being an Islamic underdeveloped state has advanced in many aspects but is still facing a backlash in regard to societal progress. Most of us know that women play a vital role in a society’s or a country’s development, not only by staying at home and getting household chores done but by working as hard as men alongside them, in various fields. But just like the antediluvian times, women are being oppressed in several ways, and in rural areas of the country, patriarchy is substantially more advocated to avoid the liberation of women according to their free will. Women today are and are trying to get ahead of the pack in most of the fields. They’ve been actively participating in different developmental projects, economic, health, political projects, relief efforts, charitable associations, and social services. Simultaneously, there are these vicious issues faced by a woman in her society: albeit acid attack, honor killing, sexual assault forced marriages women abduction, and many others. According to a study carried out by HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH in 2009 it is estimated between 20–30% of women have suffered some form of abuse in their lives, 5000 women are killed per year by domestic abuse and that too is carried out by their very own so-called protectors that are their brothers, fathers, and husbands.

Women in Islam

Many people oppose Islam for imposing restrictions on women; keeping them from acceding in their lives, but in reality, no such restriction exists. Hundreds of years ago Islam gave women their actual status their recognition as full personhood. The first woman to accept Islam Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife Khadija (RA), was not just any woman she was the mother of two daughters at that time and a well-accomplished businesswoman. Not only that even his last wife Aisha RA was a well-known authority in medicine, history, and rhetoric. Many women helped with the canonization of the Qur’an. A woman is known to have corrected the reliable ruling of Caliph Omar on dowry. Women also prayed in mosques separate from men. They were also involved in the conveyance of hadith, encouraged to seek and gain knowledge, and were recognized as both instructors and pupils in the early Islamic period. But still, some people support the narrative of making Pakistan a secular state. What difference would that make? Islam is the only religion that supports women in every way giving them the potential rights that they need, but why women still seek their rights? To understand this concept we might need an overview of the condition of women in mainstream societies of Pakistan. Women have always been studying and working like men ever since partition the quota might be less than it is now because at that time people were not so open-minded and did not consider it essential for a woman to be educated, while it is the foremost obligation of certain parents to let their daughters break down the limitations imposed by the misogynistic society to show them that they are not any less of a being. There are men as fathers or brothers who support their daughters or sisters for achieving something in their life.

Importance of Women education.

Although with the passage of time women’s education became more common but still patriarchal values heavily govern the social structure in some areas of Pakistan especially rural. Some people are up to the idea that perhaps female education leads to the demolition of a society while disregarding the reality that women need to be literate to raise an educated well aware generation. When the need arises women work either from home or outside side by side with other men, as laborers, maids, taxi drivers, and so on just to earn a respectful living. Many women also work from their homes by tailoring the clothes of others, or from social media through blogging. Apart from there are highly educated women working in various reputable fields competing and surpassing men. Women are way stronger than you think; they are explicitly brave enough to fight for themselves and their loved ones. The success of certain women in some fields has lead to the manifestation that women can do anything they want if given an opportunity and proper means. Fatimah Jinnah, one of the leading founders of Pakistan. Just like how Benazir Bhutto became the first-ever Female prime minister of an Islamic state, apart from her, many other female political personalities have been actively participating in the political matters of the state. Marium Mukhtar was the first-ever ‘female and fighter’ pilot in PAF to die as a martyr. Asma Jehangir was also a well known human rights lawyer and social activist, and countless other unsung Heroes. Success becomes possible if the people that you admire and look up to support you especially your parents. And sometimes to avenge yourself in the time of opposition you work even harder to prove people wrong, but that rarely happens. It’s not that easy to stand up when several others oppose you.

Moving forward in Misogynistic society

Male dominance is an embarrassing issue in our society, mostly in the rural areas, nevertheless the situation isn’t any better in the urban areas either. “Misogynist” is a triggering word among the majority of the men because of the lack of proper knowledge, misinformation, and its inaccurate use. A number of males of the society, due to their stubborn and illiterate mindset, show no respect to the females, they consider women some kind of inferior species who is obliged to live and die within the boundaries of their house. Honor killing is as common as dirt in backward areas; girls are coerced to marry men way older than their age.

Marriage related issues

The culture of dowry is a widespread issue in the rural as well as the urban areas. In Islam there is no recognition of dowry as such, the parents can give whatever they want to their daughters without any compulsion. This revolting restriction must be removed. Now in several cases, a heavy dowry is the only way to let your daughter get married, and she even gets to stay with her in-laws. Normally we advocate Islam and act like some kind of preachers and on the other hand, we’re the ones making it strenuous for the ones with daughters to survive and make them feel as if they’ve raised a burden on themselves for all these years. Pakistan is one of the leading countries in dowry-related deaths. Almost 2000 dowry-related deaths occur every year and annual rates exceeding 2.45 deaths per 100,000 women from dowry-related death violence. Marriage itself has become an issue now. The extravagance of the futile ceremonies put through on weddings has made it hard for people to get married, and increasing major crimes like fornication. But Islam completely abnegates the absurd notion of extravagance of one’s money on futile practices.

Where does the problem lie?

When Islam has given a woman her full right and she also has her rights written in the constitution then why does she still faces all the above issues? Why is she still being killed or raped? Why does she still have to face the malevolence of illiterate people? Why does she have to face the judgmental and filthy glance or stare of whoever walks by? Why can’t she be seen as a human rather than some flesh? Islam is not an obstacle, it is a religion of peace indeed but ironically the so-called orthodox, which uses Islam as a weapon, whilst disintegrating the actual teachings of Islam, for nothing but their own benefit to abstain women from flourishing and surpass them. The reason behind all these inequalities and viciousness is the lack of proper mental education, social etiquette, and unfortunately the law imposing authorities. Law is like a spine for the people, especially with less power. The implementation of the law needs to be improved for the strengthening of the poor and it is also necessary for all to be treated equally before the law. On the other hand in our society, it is considered taboo for a woman to go into the courts and file a case against her culprit, while it needs to be normalized. To obtain a decline in the cases, they need to be filed first for a proper legal action to take place. To restrict ludicrous people from their absurdness, we need to have strict law implementation so that the fear of law might keep them from any cruelty that they perform. Even after having laws in the favor of women, there are methods for the culprits to easily dissociate them from the punishment, which gives them the choice of whether they do or do not harm another woman, leaving women helpless.