Even in big metropolitan cities like Karachi, it is men who dominate the public spaces. And these women are fed up with that situation. They want to feel safe, respected and comfortable when they are out in the streets.
It is true that our society is conservative yet. We are bunch of judgmental people. Unfortunately, it is getting more narrow minded with the passage of time. Women, elite or lower class are more conscious and worried then before. Ask anyone how scared they feel when they are out. That is why abaya, niqab, hijab caught on. We are hidders. Hidding and concealing makes them feel safe. No one will be able to say "flany ki beti behen ko dekho kesy ghoomti hai baher"
Is this the only problem?
Are we that scared of judgmental?
Does being find out in going all out can dent our reputation?
what is the real problem?
Are our cities really that dangerous that women feel unsafe to be in public spaces? Is this males who are dominating and not letting women out? Do they make them that uncomfortable that either they are inside the four walls of their homes, or thye have hidden themselves in layers of clothes?
To me problem is the mentality, not the lack of public space for women in Karachi or another part of Pakistan. We have developed this seige mentality. Anyone who is not ours is dangerous. Others can harm us. High stranded of chaste is another chain which make us think thousand time before doing anything. Irony is that instead of resisting and rejecting that absurd mentality our women endorse them obediently and happily.
We have developed such suffocated society where women don't even want to think outta their comfort zone. Man and outside world is just a blame people do all day long. Public space is not that dangerous, neither all men are therki.
It is women who decided not to go out. Those who are out would tell you how uncomfortable it is for them. We learn from each others. We model others. When we see no one is doing, we assume it is not acceptable. Cherry on the top in the race of being chaste better is to follow quietly. We have also seen that people get in trouble when they try to resist, why I get into trouble? Women are judged if she is little bit presentable, out going, career oriented. Our society is judgmental. Therefore, it has become a norm.
We strongly believe in "our women - there women" hamri aurtein baher nahi jatien /our women don't go out. Society is judgmental. Women don't want to have any bad label. They are, sorry to say brainwashed in such a nice way that they don't even know. They are made to think that they are princesses and everyone is looking at them.
Streets harassment is everywhere in this world. Even in the first world countries. Still, women over their don't claim to be sharifa. She is out doing her bit despite all the hurdles. Life is not bed of roses. You are out on streets, what are you excepting? Even men are harassed, mugged and robbed. Have they hidden themselves?
Get real: Outside world is not your HOME.
Other thing is that we, here think that women who are on the streets are because of some compulsion. They are helpless. tsk tsk....Otherwise, respectful women stay in her home. Her men (father/brother/ husband/son) will provide her everything. There is no need for her to roam around the streets and worry. For outing, time pass and recreational activities, her family and closed trusted friends are there for her to fulfill that need. THE END OF BEING OUT ALONE !
They have somehow decided that outside world is evil. Those who are educated and working, also prefer to be safe. They all think everyone is staring at them. That is why abya, hijab culture caught on. women have to go out. In abyay with niqab they conceal themselves. It savea them from being recognized and judged.
Men stare because you are not out. You are not a common thing. Also because you are less out, you are not comfortable with the environment. It's a very natural thing. We all feel uncomfortable at new place at first. Continuing so becomes normal.
Let me give you one advice: Get over yourself.
This is the same mentality of upper class peeps. To them all people are wallay, who looking at them. They look down on them in return. They live in their cocoon. Now few are looking for the public space where they can sit, walk and talk freely still in their areas. There are out with some activities after every couple of months.
But question is: Is is working?
Definitely, no !
What they do, do with their own class in their own areas. It is still not publicccccc. That is why they could never bring sustainable change for better for anyone yet. You know what, the women who are doing this don't do it every day.
Lots of people say solution is education. When it is not either. It is acceptance and letting go people. Letting people do what they do unless it is not criminal. If we want more women out from all the background we first need to change the mindset. We need to net rid of this siege mentality. Come out. No one is looking. Enjoy your life. This issue will be settled themselves.
Photo Credit: Girls at Dhabas' Facebook Page
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