Honor or ghairat is abundant in Pakistan. For most men, their honor is linked with numerous aspects – their education, their family background, their financial status or their personality. For most Pakistani women, however, their honor is linked to one sole factor – the honor of the men they’re associated with. Bhai, baap, chacha, taaya – everyone has a say when the honor of a woman is concerned. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that this honor be preserved.
Some men beat the women linked to their honor. After all, there is no beghairati in raising a hand on a woman. Some will mentally torture these women, some will rape them. If all else fails, they will be killed in the name of honor. Keep in mind that there is no beghairati in murder either. After all, it’s all in the name of honor.
Since honor trumps all else – humanity, warmth, kindness, compassion and empathy – it is essential that it must remain intact at all costs. Here’s a quick guide on how you can protect your family’s self-proclaimed honor:
1. Try to avoid being born a woman
Being a woman, you automatically carry the burden of bearing numerous honors, other than your own. The simplest way to avoid this, is to avoid being a woman altogether.
2. Accept your womanhood and the numerous honors linked to it
Okay, you couldn’t avoid being a woman. The next step is to accept the fact that your clothes, manner of speaking, the company you keep and the way you portray yourself is directly related to the honor of all the men around you. Never forget that. Ever.
3. Keep your opinions to yourself
Have an opinion? Keep it to yourself. Do you want to be expressive? Keep it to yourself. Want to go out? Be free? Be bold? Lol, beta. Keep it all to yourself.
4. Always be careful of what you wear
Your clothes are and will always be a direct indication of your character. Why? Because society said so. And when has society ever been wrong? Warna prepare yourself for the character assassination.
5. Remember to keep your voice low
Too loud? Fix it. Remember: girls are meant to be seen and not heard – also said by our very own, hamesha correct society.
6. Have ambitions? Well, now you don’t.
Okay, so your parents decided to educate you and you developed ambitions and aspirations. I hate to break it to you, but you’re either going to have to follow through with their plan or get rishta-ed off. Sorry. I don’t make the rules, society does.
7. Marry according to society, not your heart
Fell in love with a guy and want to marry him but your parents have other plans? Don’t fight for it, obey your parents and kiss the guy good-bye (but not literally – phir toh pakka stoning to death type scene.)
8. Never leave the house without a chaperone
It doesn’t matter if you’re 12, 22 or 40. Never leave the house without a man. He will protect your honor. Not only that, all men around you will be repelled by the force field of izzat and ghairat that your male associate will exude.
9. Never ever speak out against any injustice or call out men for misogyny
Unless you want to be labelled a ‘libtard,’ slut, whore or have other fingers pointed at your character, never raise your voice against anything you feel is wrong. Remember, if people think your character is tainted, men around you will automatically be dishonored.
10. Act like a lady. Always.
From day one, we are taught ke larkiyan aisi hoti hain –we are given a list of what is right and wrong from the minute we are able to comprehend words. Remember everything you’re taught – the right way to sit, the right way to talk, walk carry yourself and the right way to behave in front of company. Kill your desires, ambitions, hopes and dreams, but always act like a lady.
This write-up comes from a place of immense bitterness and exasperation, not only at the fact that some people will fail to see the sarcasm in this guide and will agree to it, but by the fact that it is 2016 and pieces like these still need to be written.
A quick Google search will lead you to the harrowing statistics that indicate that 70-90% of Pakistani women have suffered from some form of abuse, with about 5000 women being killed every year as a result of domestic violence. Countless others are maimed or disabled. The worst part is that a majority of these victims receive no form of justice as these acts of violence are not considered to be crimes in the first place.
When these statistics are brought forth, they are waved aside as being a conspiracy to defame Pakistan or are not considered to be matters of importance. Some people choose to point out acts of violence abroad. The fact is, however, that these statistics are our problem if we consider ourselves Pakistanis. Our women are being beaten, raped and killed in the name of honor under our arrogant, selfish and conveniently blinded eyes, but we choose to wave it all aside because, apparently, there are bigger problems to worry about, all of which we fail to address and solve as well.
Perhaps we sit on our thrones of denial because we are untouched. Perhaps, the misogyny that is internalized in our beings has made us blind to the plight of our own women. We watch silently as they are stripped of all forms of respect and honor to preserve our own.
To me, there could not be a greater dishonor.
Cover Image via: funvilla