By Faheera Asif
Independent, bold, free, courageous, self-determined, able…
These words are not for many women living in Eastern cultures! In these cultures and societies, you find women working with men at hospitals, offices, industries, schools….etc; you may even find them living independently, on their own and on their own earnings, and yet no woman can truly say “she is free”.
It is of great concern to me, that no matter how much we have studied, no matter what work we do, no matter who we are, we are still bound to our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. This is because from the beginning we are told that we are the ‘one’ who has to be more dependent. After all, We can never be right! Right? We are not free to make our own life decisions.
I have a friend whose story I want to share with you. She is lovely. She completed her education in Media Sciences from one renowned university. She is talented and quickly got a Media job as a program host. When you do live shows, anyone can take your picture, and in her case, someone decided to take her picture and upload it everywhere on social websites. Everywhere in the world, this is a common thing; everyone who enters the Media industry knows that this will likely happen.
Hardly three months into her job my friend’s father and brother saw her pictures online. They started to blame her for this and accuse her of everything else. Even though it was her father who had found this job for her and her brother who had paid her university tuition over the years. And yet seeing her pictures online, they decided to beat her and told her that going on Social Media and being visible online is not allowed in their family, and that she was not allowed to continue with her job.
I wonder, didn’t they know this when she was completing her education in Media Sciences? Why let her study it, if eventually, she is not allowed to do it?
Although she is highly educated and among those 3-4% of women who have completed this level of education, she cannot work. She eventually ran away to her sister’s in another city because of what they did. She is heart-broken. She doesn’t know what to do with her career, as her education is totally about television! She doesn’t know where to seek help and what to do.
She was earning her own living, she was independent and I know she was not doing anything wrong. But, there is nothing to do because her father doesn’t allow it!
This story is not about an uneducated family in a remote rural area, either. They live in a large city. Her father and brother are both well-educated. But, this is not the story of my friend alone. Many women are facing this. This is what is happening in more modern urban areas; rural women are facing much worse. We claim that we are changing – indeed we are – but we are far behind when it comes to providing every person, especially women, with equal human rights.
According to me, education is the only solution for true freedom. It should be practiced at home. Boys, from early age should be taught to respect women as equals. Parents should also treat boys and girls as equals. It is a very simple thing but it can make a great difference.
We cannot change the whole world. It is not in our hands to do so, but we can change our surroundings. We can start in our homes, educating friends and relatives.
We need a change. A change to become cultures in which a woman can also have the right to live according to her will, where she can do things she wants, where she can do what she likes ………..and where she can breathe FREELY.
Faheera Asif is a writer and lives in Karachi, Pakistan. FaheeraAsif@gmail.com