The photo was chosen for Women’s Day in Ireland and they wrote this sentence: “Don’t be afraid to be associated with a strong woman the day may come and she’ll be your only army”.
A photograph taken in Ireland in 1972 of a girl shooting from the gun of her fiancé who was wounded in a battle against the British army, her wounded fiancé survived after being transported by car to a safe place, while his girlfriend clashed with British soldiers until she was killed.
When the commander of the Battalion of The English Soldiers found out that they were fighting a woman, he ordered his soldiers not to touch her body and allowed the Irish to bury her and they heard the English commander repeat this sentence:
We defend a queen who doesn’t care about us. And this woman cares about her lover and her land.
32-year-old Iranian, Shohreh Bayat became the first woman in Asia to be awarded the role of Women’s World Chess Championship chief arbiter. It was the first senior role any woman had received in Asia and instead of it becoming a proud career achievement for her it became a living nightmare.
Bayat was the first Irani woman appointed to such a role, but that achievement was clouded over by controversy after Bayat’s picture taken at game in Shanghai that appears to show Ms Bayat without a headscarf, as her country mandates was circulated by Iran media. She now feels unsafe to return to Iran, where women can be arrested for violating strict dress code.
Her crime was Miss Bayat was wearing a dupatta to cover her head, instead of a hijab. She said Irani media claimed that she not wearing a headscarf because she wanted to protest against the hijab. Miss Bayat says she was, in fact, covering her head as she always has at international tournaments, despite disagreeing with the rule.
Before we revive the mullah inside all of us, read that again. This woman is scared of being jailed, punished or maybe suffering a harsher fate because she was not wearing Hijab. Even if we look at it from a conservative point of view, women in the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) rode horses, fought in wars and were not persecuted for it.
People should have the right to choose the way they want to dress, it should not be forced like Islam wasn’t forced upon people, so why is it being forced now?
As a male, have you, or anyone you know, ever been punished or reprimanded because of what you wore in public? Well maybe someone made fun of the color you wore, but it almost certainly never became a reason for imprisonment. The male gender can wear jeans or Shalwar with no hits on their character. If you had to adhere to strict a dress code for employment, participation on a sports team, school attendance or for religious observance, you know that overtime it can become a nuisance. There is a very fine line between feeling special and respected, constrained or prevented from expressing your individuality. Often women are the only ones faced with this predicament.
Back in university, as the Music Society President I was baffled when I was allowed to teach students Music theory and give guitar lessons but that was only restricted to one gender. I observed women being suppressed, even if they learned something from me they were never provided a platform to work towards their art.
The popular belief being, it would affect their chastity in some way as ‘good girls’ don’t advance their interests. They are merely designed to be married off to someone, their achievements and personality just a way to earn a better ‘richer’ husband.
Women aren’t prepared for the world like men are, they are not encouraged to advance their careers and be independent. That is why some men’s fragile egos are threatened by their wife working or even earning more than them. Women are conditioned by society to be dependent on their male ‘guardians’ for basic necessities. As you would expect, it makes things ultimately harder for women if things don’t work out or the husband isn’t happy with it. Women are deprived of the opportunity to support themselves and their families, it is seen as a matter of great shame for many when someone points out that their wife works a job. Instead of making marriage a bond where two people work together to build a better life for themselves and their families, women are just placed on pedestals inside homes for decoration.
Another thing I noticed during my University years was that women are expected to dress a certain way and it differs from culture to culture. But for most cultures, a woman covered from head to toe is the epitome of a righteous woman. This was made apparent when we went on a university tour to northern areas. While all the boys got to wear jeans or pants to assist in the hiking, girls were made to wear shalwar kamiz and which made it ultimately harder for them to perform the trek up the mountain. Many class mates and friends just chose to stay behind because of this reason.
Though the western world has stood up for their women, and moved away from this orthodox cultural idea, it still remains in a gray area in Pakistan. The idea is hugely influenced by religion; however religion has nothing to do with it since most men use the cover of religion to justify their fragile egos. A woman sporting any article of clothing that treads away from the norm has to shuffle through glares, comments, and criticism for no apparent reason. This is why women are asking for the right to dress freely, even though the right to clothing should ensure the same, it seems like a difficult task.
Why are women scrutinized for their choice of clothing?
It’s a straightforward answer that many do not acknowledge, Patriarchy is the base of most issues faced by women. Women were viewed as commodities who dressed up to please the men and then get married to them. Be that as it may, when ladies began working they got more diligent to stay aware of this pretend.
The misanthropic beliefs that shone through the entire debacle were astounding. As long as women are visually appealing to the men, there seemed to be no issue, with the exception of when the spouses and little girls of these very men chose to do likewise. The realization that a woman in pants or jeans is a sexual object of fantasy didn’t work well with men whose family did the same.
Reducing the complexity of a woman to her body or comparing her character to the manner in which she dresses has been a harming approach to deny ladies their humanity and to victim-shame survivors of sexual assault and rape. Rape victims are still being interrogated and cross examined about what they were wearing at the hour of attack, as if it is somehow a a measure of her consent.
Assault and rape can transpire whenever under any conditions – regardless of whether they are wearing a burqa or not. Society should know at this point this is a wrong doing driven by a need for power, not by passion or sexual desire. Equating female modesty with character means that women are taken less seriously as human beings due to their perceived lack of modesty. Their intelligence and accomplishments are frequently obscured by judgment cast on their clothing choices, whereas men can wear what they like while still having the “luxury” of being seen as full-fledged human beings.
For what reason are ladies continually requested to cover themselves and be liable for the potential responses and activities of others, particularly predators? This illusion of security created by victim-shaming just makes a progressively risky society wherein predators are once in a while considered responsible and victims are fearful of speaking out.
As opposed to making ladies bear the weight of others’ reactions to their bodies or dress, it’s time to start dismantling some of the sick societal conditioning and double standards that have kept victims of assault and harassment silent for centuries. Women are legitimately asking for what is theirs and it is time we begin to recognize the fundamental human right to let them dress how they need.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of THE ACE NEWS.
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17 November, 2019