This paper demonstrates a societal status of women and their pondering image in a perspective of social, political and economic contexts in Pakistan. The explicit spectrum of gender in different academic shapes does not rectify the comprehensive mode of subject due to lack of research and policy implementation. This thesis provides an appropriate source in the light of Islamic sharia law, cultural and uneducated state regulations towards gender understanding in Pakistan. Social injustice, economic domination by men and culturally bindings and borders make an oppressed environment for women’s. Urban and rural, tribal and family moralistic restrictions amidst more and broader complications to the uplift of women in various areas of Pakistan. Women in Pakistan are living in critical social scenario and struggling to gain its level role and rights in all spheres of life. This study provides a precise shade of women’s situation in Pakistan by connecting to social, political, and economic aspects of discrimination. Research needs more empirical academic work to identify issues and solutions regarding this burning topic.
Women’s right in the world is an important indicator to understand global well-being. No society can function properly without women. Aristotle the father of political science had said that the state is a” union of families and villages”. Family plays a very important role in society, and makes the foundation of the state .Happy families build healthy societies and healthy societies are prerequisites of strong political order in democratic societies.
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A woman is an architect of society. She forms the institution of family life, takes care of the home, brings up the children and tries to make them good citizens. Her role in totality contributes to the building of an ideal family, ideal society and an ideal state. In order to build the prosperous and healthy society both men and women demand for equal rights.
About half the mankind consists of women and they are treated as second class citizens all over the world, but especially in developing states they are oppressed in different sectors of life. In these developing countries one of the living examples is Pakistan which has been coming across this issue since it got independence in 1947. Women’s lives are controlled and shaped by various gender discriminatory structures in Pakistan. Their contribution to the production and physical hardships are not acknowledged. A woman suffers in education, health and gender biased feeding and recreation practices. As a human being she is denied from her own identity. In some parts she is considered as commodity owned by her brother and father before marriage and then by her husband. She does not have the power to make a decision for her life. Someone else takes decisions on behalf of herself about marriage, education or giving birth to a child.
In this paper I will explain the situation of women with a special focus on discrimination against them in different sections of society. What are the main obstacles in the development of women’s rights. Furthermore I am also going to explain women’s rights from an Islamic point of view, since this is sometimes used as an explanation or an excuse, for violating women’s human rights.
The essential teaching communicated to each woman in this patriarchal society where I myself grew up, is to stay a quiet viewer, even as a silent party to any unfairness done by a man.
Women from 48% of the inhabitants in Pakistan. A huge number inhabits in countryside areas, where essential facilities are lacking and women’s rights are mistreated. In those areas they are kept away from education, don’t have access to schools and colleges and usually became victims of honor killings, rape, early marriages and gender discrimination.
In remote areas, women are treated as slaves and remains under their men only as a labor force. Usually their fate will be decided by their husbands, fathers and brothers, which are often called male dominating societies.
They do not have the right to make a decision concerning important aspects of lives. For instance, marriage is also a kind of business among rich and poor families; this tradition exists both in the villages and cities, which is extremely infringing on their rights to exist. In some of the areas the customary act of Swara is largely prevalent especially in Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa and Balochistan ( provinces of Pakistan), by the virtue of which, instead of giving blood money as “badl-e-sulha”(retribute) an accused family gives their girl or girls in marriage to an aggrieved family as “compensation” to settle down the blood feud between them.
In this study I have used the concept of Martha Nussbaum ,, capability approach,, According to her the ten capabilities are life, bodily health, bodily integrity, senses, imagination and thoughts, practical reason, Emotion, Affiliation, Other species, Play, and control over one’s environment. These capabilities are related to one another in many complex ways. It must be protected and guaranteed in order to have happy and successful life.
1.2 Aims of the thesis
The topic of this assignment is discrimination, a very broad term which for this thesis have been narrowed down to,gender discrimination in Pakistan.In this study my aim is to analyze the situation of women’s rights in Pakistan. How they are discriminated in different spheres of life and what are the main causes of discrimination.
1.3 Research Questions
My research question is following.
1. What are the major causes of gender discrimination in Pakistan?
1.4 Methodology and material
This thesis is a qualitative case study of “Gender discrimination in Pakistan” in order to collect qualitative data for this research I have chosen to use secondary materials such as books, internet materials, and some relevant articles related to my study. In theory. I have used the book
Women and human development by Martha C. Nussbaum except from course literature. I have used the main book “Al-Quran” and different articles from journals. Apart from this I have also used materials from UN resources such as articles from very conventions sources from internet and data from newspaper have also been used.
1.5 Chapter Outline
In this paper I start my work with a brief introduction to the field. In the second chapter women’s situation in Pakistan is described briefly and some articles from CEDAW and the constitution of Pakistan is described. Furthermore the women status under sharia law has also been discussed. The subsequent chapter 3 discussess the main reasons of creating discrimination and inequalities between men and women in Pakistan. In chapter 4 I have analyse the topic and then finally I have given the conclusions with the answers to the research questions.
Martha Nussbaum’s Capability Approach
Nussbaum presents the important ingredients necessary for living an honorable life. Her concept is derived from the Aristotle notion of human beings as a political animal and from Marx idea that the human being is a creature. She thinks that her approach is a defensible theory of justice and although a partial one and calls it the capability approach.
Capabilities are important for the achievement of well-being for everyone. It helps to compare one nation to another. In Nussbaum view, the capability approach is used in analysis of women human rights. This is because the capability approach provides a social and political framework to implement the solution to the problems of human welfare. It also provides a guide for policy makers and governments ( Nusssbaum 2000, P-14).
According to Nussbaum the ten capabilities are following.
Life. A person must be able to live to the end of a human life of normal length, not dying prematurely, or before ones life is so reduced as to be not worth living.
Bodily health. A person should be healthy, including reproductive health, to be adequately nourished and to have proper shelter.
Bodily health. Must be able to move freely from one place to another, having ones bodily boundaries treated as sovereign, i.e. being able to have physical security and having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction etc.
Senses thought and imagination. Everyone in society has to be able to use the senses, to think, to imagine and reason. To do all these things in the proper way they all need adequate education and basic scientific and mathematical training. In order to be able to use thought and imagination everyone has the right to freedom of expression, choice of religion and free association in order to be able to search for the ultimate meaning of life in one’s own way( Nussbaum 2000, p-78).
Emotion. Everyone has the right to be attached to things and people outside ourselves, to care and love for those who care and love for us, to grieve at their absence, in general, to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger. Do not harm other emotions with fear and anxiety.
Practical reason. Everyone in society has the right to plain their own life in a good way without any interference from others.
Affiliation. Being able to recognize and show respect for other human beings, to engage in different forms of social interaction, to be able to understand the situation of another and to have compassion for that situation. Further to have the ability for both friendship and justice. Being able to be treated as a respectable human being whose worth is equal to that of others. Protection against any type of discrimination on the ground of sex, race, religion, ethnicity etc. ( Nussbaum 2000, p-79)
Other species. ,, Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature,,
Play. Everyone has to be able to have recreational activities and to be able to laugh and to play.
Control over one’s environment. A. Political. Being able to take part in political activities of their own choices, having the right of protection of free speech, association and political participation.
B. Material. Being able to hold movable and immovable property, having equal property rights of possession and ownership, having equal opportunity for employment. (Nussbaum 2000, p-80).
The above items on the list are interrelated to one another in many complex ways. One of the most effective ways of promoting women’s control over their environment and their effective right of political participation, is to promote women’s literacy. According to Nussbaum a woman who can seek work outside the home have exit option that helps them protect their bodily integrity from assaults within it. She futherly says that reproductive is related to many complex ways to the practical reason and bodily integrity. As a result this gives us more reason to avoid promoting one at the expense of the others ( Nussbaum 2000. P-81).
Women do not have a chance to live a valuable life. Nussbaum thinks that this is because of lack of support for basic functions of a human life. She thinks that the capability approach serves as a “good basis for a specific political conception and a specifically political overlapping consensus” (Nussbaum 2000, p. 14) . According to her these capabilities are very important for individuals lives and are connected to each other in many complex ways. These capabilities must be fulfilled by the government instutions especially in women casese in order to have happy and successfull life. As we see that in a country like Pakistan all the above capabilities are mostly missing in womens lives and leads them to discrimination in different spehers of life.
Chapter # 2
2.1 Women situation in Pakistan
Pakistani society is a male dominated society where women are isolated from different spheres of life which is perhaps due to the traditional norms prevailing in society. The status and role of Pakistani women in all aspects of life have been highly undermined. Most women in rural areas work in the fields and industries in Pakistan. It is a poor and illiterate majority, which usually lead a life of physical hardship, long hour work for which there is neither reward nor compensation (Mumtaz/ Shaheed, 1987:p-78).
Most of women in rural areas have to perform double burden of domestic and outside work. Usually they get up first and last to bed. They are the first to prepare breakfast, clean the house and wash the utensils before setting out on their outside work. Although in urban areas the conditions of women are better than those of the rural, yet the old traditions and religious restraints have hindered the independent and free movement of women (Mumtaz/ Shaheed, 1987:78).
The women in Pakistan are approximately equivalent to men in numbers. They live in the most diversify site of the tribal, feudal or urban culture. In Pakistan women can be an extremely qualified and self-confident professional or a diffident peasant toiling along with her menfolk.
They have traditionally been expected to live under the constraints of purdah. Therefore, the analysis of women’s life and status in the society cannot be adequately carried out without taking into account the importance of purdah as a constant element in everyday life in Pakistani Muslim culture.
Mostly women observe ‘Pardha’ while coming out of domestic environs or mixing up with other sections of society. Basically ‘Pardha,’ or veil, is meant to segregate the womenfolk from the male section of the society. Women are not prohibited from working but at the same time are supposed to observe strictly the rules of morality (Hanna Papanek, p 517,518).
Due to “Pardha” system, most of women have to take up work at home. They involve themselves in dressmaking, embroidery, knitting etc. In the areas like Khyber “Pakhtoonkhwa” and Balochistan, life is regulated and governed by strict beliefs and behavioral patterns (Fariha Razak Haroon p 5).
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In remote areas women do not have rights to say anything in all aspects of their lives including their marriage choice. In populated provinces of Punjab and Sindh a woman can keep her connections with her family after marriage. She can expect support from her fathers and brothers in case of separation and divorce from her husband. In Sindh and Punjab, women work in the fields with their menfolk collecting fuels and in some cases working on the construction sites shifting material from one place to another.
2.2 State violation of women’s rights in Pakistan
Almost all kinds of crimes are committed against women in Pakistan, including, murder, rape and gender discrimination.
In 1971 Pakistani military took action on the East Pakistan now called Bangladesh in which serious crimes were committed against the civilians and especially women. During 9 month operation Pakistani military raped 200,000-400,000 women and young girls.
In 2002 at 28 years old women Mukhtara Mai was gang-raped in Punjab in front of her village by the “Jirga” (court of village elders) decision for the alleged wrongdoing of her 12 years old brother.
In 2006 in her blog for the BBC, Mukhtara tells another story of a rape victim in Punjab, Shamshad Bibi, a poor woman who was gang-raped during a visit to the famous town shrine town of Uch Shareef the police declare it to be a case of consensual sex. (Soraya Makhdoom, 2009:1)
To add insult to injury the Pakistani president and Dictator General Pervez Musharraf complained that his country was unfairly portrayed a place where women were subjected to violence. The Washington post, published in an interview with General Pervez Musharraf in which he stated, “A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped”( BBC, 16 September 2005).
According to the same paper the Canadian government and human rights activists declared Pervez Musharraf’s assertion as outrageous lie: only one known rape victim, a lady doctor assaulted by a military officer had moved to Canada.
That lady doctor was Khalid Shazia, working in Pakistan petroleum in Baluchistan. She was raped by an army captain in January 2005. This incident made the local Bugti tribe furious for whom such outrageous acts were against their norms and values. As a result they attacked the gas field. But instead of presenting the rape issue General Pervez Musharraf sent more soldiers and arms to guard the installation. Baloch leadership wanted justice for the rape victim.
Nawab Akbar Bugti said,
“As long as the perpetrators of this heinous crime are not dealt with, there can be no talks”.
As a result General Pervez Musharraf regime killed Nawab Akbar Bugti an eighty year old leader fighting for his country Balochistan in august 2006 (Suraya makhdoom , 2009:P-1).
2.3 The CEDAW convention and Pakistan.
The convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has enriched of Articles regarding “how to eliminate gender discrimination against women”.
Article 2 of the convention states that the state party has the responsibility to assure legal protection and the laws which leads to gender discrimination should be changed or abolished (Article 2 of CEDAW). In article 3 it has been stated that the upbringing of children needs shared responsibility which means that a father should also contribute in upbringing the kids, as it is not only a mother’s job. The convention states that women have equal rights as men e.g. they can work with NGOs, they have the right to cast votes, this part has a very vital role as this approach can help a country’s economic growth too. The convention has emphasized on the equal rights of women in education, sports, career and health etc. (Article 10 of CEDAW). In article 14 it has been stated that state should overlook the problems faced by rural women. This is the most relevant article from Pakistan as the rural women come across lots of problems and they do not have awareness how to deal with such problems. Another important article is 16 which usually violated in Pakistan, which is about the marrying of women to a person of their own choice. In Pakistani society especially in pushtoon (Pakhtoonkhwa) and Balooch (Balochistan) tribes, the parents take the decision on behalf of the girl, without even asking her opinion (Aniqa, 2010 p-1).
The above articles are mostly relevant for our society,which is also covered by Nussbaum in her apparaches but it is sad to say that any of the articles and approaches has not been enacted in Pakistan. Article 18 has clearly stated that the parties to the convention has suppose to report to UN within a year of signing the convention regarding the progress, whereas Pakistan joined the CEDAW convention in 1996 and has reported only once yet (May 2007) (Aniqa, 2010 p-1).
2.4 Women’s rights in constitution of Pakistan
In constitution 1973 of Pakistan from article 8 to article 28 describe the fundamental rights which are to be available to all citizens, men as well as women wherever they are, as well as all people temporarily or permanently in Pakistan. However the freedoms guaranteed can be curtailed or taken away by the government on the grounds of integrity of the sovereignty of Pakistan, maintenance of public order, public morality. But these restrictions can be challenged in the superior courts. The executive is bound to implement these rights and the judiciary is bound to take notice of violation and provide redress on individual complaints (constitution of Pakistan 1973 article 8 and 28).
The basis of fundamental rights is laid out in Article 4, which states that it is the inalienable right (i.e., can never be taken away) of individuals (citizens wherever they may be as well as individuals currently in Pakistan) to be treated in accordance with the law. It guarantees the protection of liberty, life, body, reputation and property of an individual (constitution of Pakistan 1973 article 4).
2.5 Women Status under Sharia Law
In Arabic sharia means, path, It is a position which guides all aspects of Muslim life including daily routines, familial and religious obligations and financial matters. It primarily derived from the Quran and Sunna the practices, sayings and teachings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
It is a position which covers every aspect of life for both men and women and is incompatible with the standards of liberal Western societies and the basic principles of western human rights that include equality under the law and the protection of individual freedoms. The Shariah code gives equal roles to men and women and not contradictory roles, when women had no rights in the world it declared,
” And women shall have equal rights to the rights against them, according to what is equitable (Al Quran Surah Baqara 2.28). However the task assigned to both of them is not same. They have given different capabilities by their creator, and the task assigned to them is based on those capabilities. This distinction is natural and not an error which has to be corrected, this is only for the purpose to build a healthy and prosperous society.
In different verses in the Quran God has discussed women as well as men’s rights. Allah says, for Muslim women and Men, for believing men and women, for women and men who are patient and constant, for true men and women, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who guard their charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who engaged in best practices, for them God have forgiveness and great reward. (Al Quran Surah 33.35)
Any kind of discrimination based on gender is severe offenses and are against the teaching of Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) teach the lesson of equal rights of men and women. Islam does not consider women as subordinate to men and just follow them without any reason. Women have full freedom as individual and will be asked for her practices. ( Jamal Badawi 2007, p-6). As we have discussed earlier Pakistan is a country where culture and traditions have great influence on people lives, they follow it without even caring of sharia laws.
2.5 Sharia law in Pakistan
In Pakistan there is triple legal system. Which consist of the general law (state law) of Pakistan, secondly the customary law and thirdly Sharia law. In general law or in constitution the current status of Sharia law is unclear. It provides for the existence of the triple legal system, acknowledges the existence of Sharia law in Pakistan and recognizes the associated court system, but the jurisdiction of Sharia courts is set to matters of personal status and therefore does not extend to the criminal jurisdiction. This is attributed to it by the penal codes that have been adopted at the level of states. The Constitution does not explicitly state, however, that criminal matters are the exclusive jurisdiction of federal courts and it is therefore possible to address criminal matters in Sharia courts.
Regardless of the jurisdiction of Sharia courts, it is possible to appeal Zina (Sex without marriage) cases on the grounds that their punishment is inconsistent with the human rights provisions of the Pakistani constitution. For instance, Chapter II Article 19 enshrines human dignity as a value of the Pakistan legal order. It seems unlikely that the public nature and prolonged pain associated with lashing and stoning sentences would be found to be consistent with the dignity provision of the Constitution (Walter, 2001).
Chapter # 4
4 Reason of Women Discrimination in Pakistan
4.1 Male domination
Pakistani society is mostly male dominated society. The behavior towards women is reflected like women are the males property. She has to remain under the man’s control. She cannot take any decision on her behalf. In some areas of rural Sindh and Khyber pakhtoonkhwa ( provinces of Pakistan) a girl cannot decide for her marriage. Her parents have to take decision on her behalf. If she takes the decision for herself she can be killed or punished.Household responsibilities are given to them at a very young age. Taking care of others and sacrificing her rights is a part of her life and to get married is her ultimate goal in her life. In rural areas the the violence against women is considered the right of man. Usually men use their power to beat and abuse women in all spheres of public and private life. It is present in the workplace, family and in the community. Intimidates, humiliates, violence and perpetuated fear in women. As women are weak so they usually controlled by men in many spheres of life (Allama, G.A. 1998,P-22).
4.2 Customs and laws
Women’s lives are usually governed by local customs rather than statutory laws of the country. Customs and tradition deny women basic rights. Access to legal rights is usually denied. The bad customs like honor killings are highly praised in rural areas of Pakistan.The law of Diyat and Qisas (retribution and family distribution of money) contains discriminatory provisions and ambiguities. The Qisas and Diyat law may encourage the murder of women by making it possible to absolve murders.
Another area of discrimination against women in mostly rural areas of Pakistan is linked to the question of the age of puberty. As girls reach to puberty at an early age, they are considered mature at a younger age than boys. Therefor they receive harsher punishments for the same crimes in the same age as the boys. For instance if a young boy is found to be guilty of rape, his punishment will be less than that of a girl of the same age.
In Pakistan generally men dictate women in different sectors. They want to dominate them.physical mobility of women is restricted. They are not asked in mate selection. In the name of tradition and culture a woman is told that she must be gentle, submissive, patient and forgiving. She is not allowed to go anywhere without the consent of her husband even to her parents house. Culture of oppression exists in rural areas of Pakistan. Men believe that women are inferior. They usually marry twice or thrice. This is a culture that denies their social, political and legal rights. It gives them no identity at any level (Allama, G.A. 1998,P-24).
4.3 Income disparity
One of the reason of women discrimination is income disparity which has made them economically weak. Improvement in women’s financial status is very important to their overall betterment. Women cannot get their rights until they are financially strong and economically independent. Women play the main role in national development. But unfortunately their role is rarely recognized. Usually women work is unpaid and even if they are paid its usually less than men. Women are not given property rights and usually husband has the control of money and property (Allama, G.A. 1998,P-25).
4.4 Role of media
Media play a key role in reflecting the values and norms of one’s society. It helps to change peoples’ views. Media shows that the women are physically weak and subordinate to men. The media are controlled by the state, electronic media especially television, have been hesitant to highlight the issue, avoiding documentaries and talk shows domestic violence, rape and incest. While highly severe incidents like gang rape may occasionally appear in the regular news bulletin.
The local rural press media have a mixed policy covering women issue not infrequently with negative slant and giving far more space to barbaric and traditional perspectives and viewpoints on women. In all over the rural areas the patriarchal attitude persists in the newspaper .The media either electronic or print have the same attitude towards sexual harassment violence. If a girl is sexually abused, the entire blame is put on her clothes, on her beauty or on the the fact the she was in the street at that time, whereas the abuser act is usually justified because he was young, he was drunk and his sexuality was out of control. Thus we can say that the media also play a vital role in gender discrimination in a society (Allama, G.A. 1998,P-26).
4.5 Lack of practical implementation of rules & Regulations
One of the main reasons of gender discrimination in Pakistan is the lack of practical implementations of rules and regulations. The 1973 constitution of Pakistan is enriched of the fundamental rights to all citizen men as well as women. The executive is bound to implement all the fundamental rights and the judiciary is bound to take notice of violation and provide redress on individual complaints (1973 constitution of Pakistan ). Article 4 of the convention covers inalienable rights (i.e., can never be taken away). It guarantees the protection of life, body, protection of liberty, reputation and property of the individual. The above rights are also mentioned in Nussbaums capability approach. According to her theses rights are connected to each other in many complex ways and necessary to be satisfied in order to have a happy life and the government is responsible to take care of these rights. But as we see that all the above rights are mentioned in the constitution but are not practically implemented in Pakistan (1973 constitution of Pakistan,Article 4).
Pakistan is also a party to the convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women which has enriched of Articles regarding “how to eliminate gender discrimination against women”. But it is sad to say that no articles of the convention has been practically enacted in Pakistan.
4.6 Islamic fundamentalism
In Islamic fundamentalists think that the struggle for women’s rights as a western conspiracy. They consider women as inferior and their main duty is to please men. Women have been oppressed and segregated from from different spheres of life in the name of Islamic culture. According to many Islamic scholars, the customs and traditions are un-Islamic. But fundamentalists defend them in their own way. They include the practice of honor killing which allows male members of the family to kill female members for having sexual relations without marriage. Swara is a custom in the tribal district of Khyber pakhttonkhwa and Punjab (provinces of Pakistan) under which girls are given in marriage to men of rival or tribes in order to settle cases of murder and other blood feuds (daughters and sisters of accused murders are given to affected families to release their fathers and brothers). The girl is then treated harshly in the rival clan. Islamic fundamentalists never raised their voices against these inhuman and cruel customs and traditions. Love marriage is considered a crime and sin according to the religious leader. These fundamentalists and religious parties are against the ,Hudood, laws. These were the laws introduced by the military dictator, General Zia-UL- Haq, in 1979 to viciously curb women’s rights. According to theses horrific laws, a rape victim needs the evidence of four male witnesses in order to prove her claims in the court. If she fails to provide this, she will be charged with adultery (sex with her own consent) which means imprisonment for between 5 and 15 years. These laws were made by a dictator for their own interest but in the name of Islam. According to a report made by professor Shaheen, a minister during the period 1999 to 2002: “95 % of cases registered under the Hudood laws are false. Hudood laws have proved to be instruments of personal interest. These religious leaders are using religion to oppress women and other sections of society. The rise of fundamentalism is a threat to women’s rights (www.socialistalternati
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