“International women’s day” celebrated on March 8th, acknowledges the power, sovereignty, respect and importance of women all around the globe. Also provides them with a sence of recognition for their contribution in the social and economical development today.
” I am convinced that women of the world , united , can become a most powerful force for international peace” ( Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and widow of Martin Luther King)
This thought no matter how true or convincing cannot be at present shaped into reality because of the misfortune that women face everyday either in the form of domestic violence, gender based work and pay discrimination, forceful prostitution, marital rape and the list goes on. In the developed countries such issues are being catered to in order to protect women from sexual assaults and discrimination however in Pakistan all the above mentioned issues are to a certain extent touched by the Law except for “Marital rape”.
This practice my fellow readers is defined as the “non – consensual” sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. It is a form of sexual abuse and domestic violence but one which still in many cultures either remains legal or is illegal but widely accepted as a husband,s prerogative.
Every year millions of women suffering from this torture undergo physical and psychological damage , the fact that shatters them the most is that the damage is being done by their own protectors. these protectors tend to be physically, financially and mentally much more stronget than their wives because ours is a “male dominant society”. The root problem that needs to be addressed here is the culture that prevails Pakistan, that has had a concept of “conjugal rights” to sexual intercourse with each other, where the idea of marital rape is treated as an impossibility.
Another factor that stimulates this inhumane act are the beliefs and practices of the religious extremist groups in Pakistan. They donot identify marital rape as being a criminal activity, as they consider Islam to have allowed the husband full rights over their wives, with or without their willingness. However many Scholars have shed light upon this issue through the teachings of the Holy Quran and Ahadith , which also clearly condemn marital rape as being an unlawful act.
Nabi Muhammad (S.A.W.W) said,
إذا دعا الرجل امرأته إلى فراشه فلم تأته فبات غضبان عليها لعنتها الملائكة حتى تصبح
“When the husband calls his wife to his bed, and she does not come to it, while he spends the night angry with her, the Malaa’ikah (the angels) curse her until morning. ((Agreed upon; Bukhaari and Muslim)) ”
notice here that our Nabi Muhammad (S.A.W.W) did not encourage the man to force the woman who didnot want to come.
In 2006, The UN Scretary General found “marital rape may be prosecuted in atleast 104 states”, Pakistan not being one of them. As per record there are no statistics available to study the ratio of these cases since normally this sexual assault goes unreported because of a lack of awareness and education. Many NGO,s are working for women empowerment in Pakistan , PEACE – DIRECT being one of them , to educate the female population of their basic rights, to support and help them to stand at a better position and status in the future than today. However in 85% of the cases women falling prey to these criminal acts grow week and volunerable and with the passage of time are unable to gain back their confidence even if provided with councelling and support.
Thus, it is the duty of us, as healers of Pakistan to not to just acknowledge the existance and women,s day and triumph over it but the achievement and success of it lies in providing respect, security and a feeling of trust for the helpless and suppressed women of our nation.