Youth Voices

The Altar of Sacrifice

Written By Zohra Noushin Ahmed

Aisle

I know that being in society requires us to abide by a certain set of rules. Whether or not these particular rules are in our best interest, I leave it for each person to judge accordingly. However, I must say that life in Pakistani society – in general – has not changed much for women in all the years this country has lived. Yes, some people – especially women – might perk up their ears and sit a bit straighter, their mouths forming thin lines of indignation; but you know in your heart that I speak the truth.

It does not seem to matter to most families if they are in the first or the third tier of society. If they are clothed in silks and satins of the highest order, with a “broad-minded” outlook to boot; they still have to worry about a majority of the same issues a third-tier woman would be so openly chastised about.

For instance, let us imagine a boy and girl (let us say they even belong to the same tribe) who wish to marry one another. Do you honestly believe the village elders will let two people (who are obviously in love) attain that one happiness that is the right of every individual? The answer, dear Reader, is a simple NO. Most likely the girl will never be seen again, and her spirit will be lost amongst the countless others who have, in the dead of night, “disappeared” off the face of the earth for wanting nothing more than to live their lives. The boy might have to pay a king’s ransom, but he will be pardoned… if not killed.

In another setting, a rich man might allow his daughters to gain the ultimate education, he may  encourage them to use their own mind and form their own path in life… but when the time comes, he shall clam up like the oldest and most crudest of match making mamas and relentlessly pursue that one course with a single-mindedness bordering on the unbelievable. Not for a second would he sit back and think to let them decide their own fate. After all, no matter how “well-versed” a woman is, in our society she will always be considered nothing more than just that – a woman, with tuft rather than brain between her ears.

I find it rather shocking that women can be twice an intelligent as men – and believe me, I have met more than my fair share of such – and still not be recognized for their worth. There is always a certain “control” to be seen where women are concerned – mostly by the men. Sometimes the control has to do with her safety, sometimes his values… and sometimes his honor. Somehow I have never truly understood how a man’s honor can reside in a woman’s body. No matter what background they come from.

I wonder, however, if that is all a woman is born to do – live a life of servitude for the rest of her days, even if they be in legalized bondage (yes, my views on marriage, exactly!).

Given that the chances for a career (in a majority of the fields) in Pakistan have very slim picking – since our society steadfastly refuses to give a chance to professions such as (for example’s sake) Art (performance or otherwise), Literary Pursuits and even Culinary. Women, being women and thus reduced to second class citizens in our darling country, have even less choices available to them. However, it is highly unlikely most people will agree with me when I say that there is more to a woman other than the altar of matrimony (or should I say sacrifice?). Her life should be worth a lot more than her husband’s and family’s desires and wishes. Why is it that we are still stuck in the same faltering bandwagon for the last 60 or so years? Yet we still dare to claim to be living in the 21st century.

Are we simply deluded? Or trying to delude others? For I fear we are failing miserably at both. It’s high time the women in our country stood up and took their place, as equals, beside the men. Don’t you?