Syed Ahad Hussain, Opinions Editor

“Having been so blessed in life, I often think of the things that I should be grateful for. The list al- ways seems to be never ending, but invariably it ends at one thing, that I was born as a MAN. Nothing in the world scares me more than the thought of being born a woman in a country like Pakistan, where obscurantism the deep roots. It is very unfortunate that we make tall claims, full of pride, about the rights of woman granted by our religion and yet when I look around in underdeveloped Muslim countries in general and Pakistan in particular. I find things totally the opposite. Tragically, our interpretation and application of religion seems to begin and end with woman. Leave the 5% urban educated elite aside, woman seems to be the playground (battleground) where we practice a medieval form of religion.”

Those are the words of a Pakistani filmmaker, Shoaib Mansoor. I couldn’t help agreeing with this statement. What scares me even more is that the statement does not hold true for Pakistan only. We come across the stories of injustice done to women in the name of religion, which grant some extremist men unauthorized domination upon them. No religion allows for the abuse of women and denial of their civil rights, but extremists would see otherwise, taking excerpts of verses from the Holy Qur’an and interpreting them out of context to wrongfully justify their abuse of women.

It is saddening that a country like Pakistan, which has been ruled by a woman more than once, has an abundant presence of women in the senate; injustice and cruelties towards women are practiced. In some cities, women have been denied access to basic rights such as education and have been exiled to their homes, forced to live in isolation. Putting hideous criminal stories of honor killing and honor rape aside, in rural areas, it has become normal to throw acid at women’s faces. Other countries have their own way of brutalizing women, this isn’t only limited to the tales we heard of some notorious serial killers. In my opinion, whoever denounces women from raising their voice for their rights and refuses to accept them as a valuable member of the society is no less of a criminal than any serial killer.

I don’t have much knowledge of the Christian faith; I’ll only talk about my nation of Islam, which is wrongfully believed to be the most abusive of women among all the religions. The term ‘Islam’ literally means submission but this submission is submission of one’s self towards peace, loyalty, acceptance, and implication of love of mankind as taught by this religion of tolerance. Submission of one’s self towards principles of Islam which teaches gender equality and prohibits one gender from abusing another, one of the Suras of the Qur’an, An-Nisa states, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard.” translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, as noted on

Is it just religious extremism which grants men a license to abuse women? I dare to differ that it’s the only reason. Here’s where media enters the picture. Which TV show and commercial doesn’t contain exhibitions of female flesh? How graphic is the depiction of rape and killing of women is in the news? How sexually degrading towards women are the lyrics of today’s chart topping hit songs? Which successful video game doesn’t let you kill prostitutes? Which horror TV show, or movie for that matter, doesn’t have a female victim? Most successful horror movies, including but not limited to Hollywood, have a woman most victimized, assaulted and terrorized more than men.

If men of today listen, watch and observe implied biased treatment of women in society 24/7, their aggression and sense of superiority towards women would only be increased. Who would listen to a song which does not sexually dis- criminate towards women? Who would watch a horror film in which the serial killer doesn’t abuse and kill women? Which horror, sci-fi, or drama novel doesn’t victimize women? And who would play a video game which does not have its characters kill, rape, or at least have sex with women in the game play? Aside from violent pornography, video games, movies, songs and then to some extent fictional novels are the most effective mediums which justify cruelties against women for the sake of entertainment and excitement. Similar held true for the world of advertisement, where it is believed that sex sells, more female skin in ads, means more consumption of the product. Who would buy an Axe product if the ad doesn’t show women as crazy nymphomaniacs and its us- age doesn’t promise men to get laid?

I myself view women differently than some men, if not all of them. I respect them because a woman is someone’s sister, wife and mother. My mother taught me to respect women by presenting herself as a respectful woman, as an obedient daughter, as a kind sister, as a loyal wife, and as caring and supportive mother. Her humble, sensible, educated and well-mannered persona taught me to treat women with respect, as a real, strong, loving, respectful, and graceful human being not just a piece of meat any less superior than men. I am proud that I learned to respect and ad- mire women from my mother and did not become an extremist sexist man. I can only hope that all men view women with respect and value their dignity.