My body My Choice in Pakistan

Written by Arubiyyah Qadir Balouch

A country is made on the principles of the highest forms of rules and regulations for their citizens.  

In a broadcast in February 1948, Jinnah expressed his views regarding Pakistan’s constitution-to-be in the following way: 

“The Constitution of Pakistan is yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, I do not know what the ultimate shape of the constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today these are as applicable in actual life as these were 1300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan.” 

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan also known as the 1973 Constitution, is the supreme law of Pakistan, by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with additional assistance from the country’s opposition parties, it was approved by the Parliament on 10 April and ratified on 14 August 1973. 

“The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 provides for the equality of women in its various articles. guarantees that “all citizens are equal under the law and are entitled to equal protection of law.” Article 25 (2) further states that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.” 

Women are given the freedom however that freedom is hardly practiced. In the year 2020, where robots are now being made and used around the world, as well as technology and medicine has reached so far as to cure cancer and AIDS, Pakistani women still have to bear their wrath off the male dominated society that they live in.  

It is to be noted here that the religion Islam has nothing to do with the dominance of men. In Islam, women are given equal rights and are given the security of the husbands, brothers and fathers. However, it is an everyday news that the people of Pakistan are used to hearing: girls raped, women raped, acid thrown and cold-blooded murders done by men. For some reason, men in large numbers don’t want women to speak up, voice their opinions, laugh loud, dance, sing, wear clothes that are not considered good, and the list goes on. But let me point it out that the levels of tolerance change with each man. Some men can bear certain things while not allowing other things on the list. So, it actually depends on what the man picks and chooses for his woman. This is not Islam; this is male dominance! 

Years ago, there was a story of a man in the village in Punjab, Pakistan who brutally beat his wife with a cricket bat till her brain spilled-out. Her crime? Let’s rewind!  

A young beautiful married girl barely 18 years old, is on the roof top with the other women from the neighborhood, all clustered together enjoying the “Festival of Kites.” It is called the Basant Festival in Punjab, Pakistan. Whenever a kite is cut by someone else, they scream, “Bokaata,” which means “the kite is cut off.” In the spur of the moment, another kite is cut in the air and is sent soaring down! And there the women, including the young teenager scream, “Bokaata,” and begins clapping! In a matter of just a couple of minutes she could hear the daunting sounds of footsteps as someone was trying to run towards her, but as she turned around to see, she saw nothing but fell to the ground. The man who was beating her mercilessly with a cricket bat was her young husband, whose pride was shattered due to his kite being cut off by a neighbor. So, it was simple, he told himself, that because his wife enjoyed the moments of his failure (unknowingly), he needed to teach her a lesson! Her lesson was her brains spilling on the rooftop of the very home she lived in. This was a true story which went unreported and at that time, if a husband kills his wife in the name of honor then even the police as well as the law would understand. The main reason for the law not doing anything was also because there would be no witnesses. The reason could be that it’s a family affair and hence no one wanted to get involved.  

Today in 2020, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where Islam prevails, and where 98% of Pakistanis are proudly Muslim, women & children are raped and murdered. Stories are heard of the gruesome murders done by men frequently. The Prophet (SAW)(PBUH) submitted his will to Allah, which is what the translation of the word “Islam,” is! But the first person to submit her will to Allah after the Prophet (SAW)(PBUH) was a woman, his first wife Khadija (PBUH). Islam is the religion that corrected the Bible’s version of Eve (Ḥawwā)(PBUH), stating that it was not Eve who lured Adam (PBUH) but both Adam and Eve were lured together by the Satan and hence faced equal consequences. When compared to the Bible, Islam does not see a woman as a result for the fall (of Adam) or as a source of evil. This itself is how Islam brings a lot of respect to women. Not going into too much details but Islam gives equal rights to women, as well as allows women to separate from their husbands, and gives them the right to education, yet an Islamic country like Pakistan fails to follow these very principles.  

Khalid Ur Rehman Qamar

Keeping the information written above we move on to a recent incident that happened live on national television in Pakistan in the month of March 2020.  

The actual incident is as follows. A slogan called, “My Body My Choice,” was being repeated by a women’s rights activist Marvi Sirmed. And while she was being interviewed so were a couple of other men, one being an Islamic priest and the other being a renowned writer of television drama series Mr. Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar. When the activist was being interviewed, she gave her point of view and she chanted the

Marvi Sirmed

slogan, “My Body My Wish.” What followed after was the writer using all kinds of profanity on her and abusing her verbally on national television, as well as body shaming her publicly. Her crime was to interrupt the writer Mr. Khalil Ur Rehman and that was it and that was all. One must think that if interruption on a national television would lead to a man using all kinds of terrible words and body shaming a woman, imagine what he must have done if she used profanity first! His interpretation of the slogan was that it’s vulgar and shameless. From what we can understand is that he must be thinking that the slogan means that a woman is saying that it’s her wish as to how many men she keeps sleeping with.  

It is still appalling to think that men can body-shame and hurl verbal abuses publicly and that too on national television. This was allowed and after the incident he was celebrated as the righteous one by many men only. Such destructive thoughts spread like poison within the strictly male-dominated society in Pakistan. Pakistan either needs to follow their religion or else the whole nation would become a fish-market where hurling abuses to women and body shaming them privately or publicly is celebrated by men.