Sharia Alert: “Pakistanis deface women on hoardings,” by Meenakshi Iyer for the Hindustan Times:
“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”
– Mohammad Ali Jinnah, 1944
She can tame the tide and even lead a nation bristling with religious zealots, but the plight of the average woman — no matter where she is — is pitiable. Empty rhetoric about the deplorable condition of women in South Asia is only adding insult to injury.
But the recent rage against women, especially in Pakistan, forces one to sit up and think: Is this the same nation where once Benazir Bhutto dared to take on the male bastion?
Rapes, honour killings and a plethora of religious edicts against women are not new to Islamic society, and the status of women keeps getting worse.
In a fresh twist, women’s faces on billboards across Pakistan, especially in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), are now being defaced.
Reason? “These multinational companies want to promote obscenity, lewdness and vulgarity,” religious leader, Shehzada Babar is quoted as saying in UK’s First Post magazine.
The depiction of women sans hijab or headscarf is considered un-Islamic by Muslim radicals and the Taliban, whose influence is growing in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
“Although the trend has been noticed in many cities across Pakistan, recently it’s been on a decline. However, it is still largely prevalent in the city of Peshawar. The local government there is following a Talibanisation drive in the province,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) told HindustanTimes.com.
Aatekah Mir, a resident of Lahore, confirms that billboards showing women are being removed/defaced, but says that it is confined to NWFP.
“It is only in the NWFP that billboards with women are being removed. The provincial government there has this ludicrous bill that forbids music and dance mehfils in public places as well as homes,” rues Mir.
“They (women) live their lives in utter fear and under restrictions. Even girls studying in the best of the colleges don’t have freedom to carry out their dreams or even speak against harsh rules made by men. They are captive in their own houses. They can’t move like American girls buying apartments of their own,” says writer Abeer Khan….