I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
By Helen Reddy
Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act has brought about a radical movement in Pakistan that no longer allows a husband to beat his wife without facing serious criminal charges and in some cases, eviction for him own home. Women are being empowered to speak out against the cruelty being done towards them. Unfortunately, many religious and political parties have stated that this new law is “un-Islamic”. The reality of the matter is that, this law is seen as a threat to religious institutions that have gained all their power from misinterpretation.
New York Times article, “The Dirty Old Men of Pakistan” by Mohammad Hanif states the hypocrisy of the institutions that are are fighting against this law. “Their logic goes like this: If you beat up a person on the street, it’s a criminal assault. If you bash someone in your bedroom, you’re protected by the sanctity of your home. If you kill a stranger, it’s murder. If you shoot your own sister, you’re defending your honor.” Not only have many political parties deemed opposition towards this bill, but the government appointed for Council of Islamic Ideology has declared the law religiously and culturally unethical.
What they are saying is.... it is okay for a man to marry a minor. It is okay for a man to marry a second, third, fourth and fifth wife without ever asking for permission to the woman he is already committed to. It is okay for a man to rape his wife time and time again because it is almost impossible for a woman to prove rape. It is okay for a man to beat his wife because she is simply dispensable.
The concept of misogyny: dislike or prejudice against women, is far older than any religion. However, women historically have prevailed through this. I think what scares these old religious men are the women in Pakistan that have triumphed in spite of the many hurdles placed in front of them – far more complex hurdles than any man has had to jump over. In the recent past, we have had women writing, flying, running companies, climbing mountains, winning Oscars and Nobel prizes, policing the streets, running businesses and winning races. Successful women in my country aren’t interested in speaking about how unfair it is to be a woman in Pakistan; instead, they simply accept the fact and find ways to work with it, around it or against it and in the process inspire and empower other women.
I AM WOMAN! A PAKISTANI WOMAN!