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From birth through life, unfounded fears, attitudes keep women bound

Dr. Jalis Akhtar Nasiri shares about the wrong conceptions in society, stamped upon daughters that have kept them bound.

On March 6th for the Women’s Day Celebration, Dr. Jalis Akhtar Nasiri was invited to a Women Empowerment event convened by Mr. Tafheemur Rahman, DPMI, in Kishanganj City in Bihar, and as chief guest, Dr. Jalis shared a powerful speech that got many people thinking.

He said that right from the beginning, parents’ minds are set in a particular manner where from an early age, they start “exploiting” their daughters by placing all the family burdens on them.  For example, if they have a daughter and a son, the parents start to dump all the household responsibilities on the daughter, asking her to run around the house and do things, fetch water, clean up the house, and other tasks, while the son is left to do whatever he wants.  Their goal is to train their daughter to start preparing to serve her future husband.

Finally, the big day comes and the daughter gets married, all trained up and ready for the task of a dutiful wife.  When her husband burdens her with all the housework, and she barely gets to rest while most of her day goes cooking, cleaning, serving, and giving all the time, her mind has been trained to think this is her duty and responsibility and finds nothing wrong with it. Servility is imbibed in her DNA from a child.

The third stage is the very disgusting stage, he said.  After she has children, her growing children witness the way their father treats their mother and start to treat her too like a domestic helper.  They rely on her to do everything for them and rarely help her out because the children also have been conditioned to think it is their mother’s duty to keep working like a domestic worker all the time.

One might have heard the old saying, “Maa ki khana itna accha lakta hain” I like my mom’s food from her hands.  They regard their mother as a great chef.  While it may seem complimentary, it is actually an assumption and expectation that she has to be that cook for them.  Oftentimes, men after getting married start comparing their wife’s food with their mother’s and criticize their wife’s cooking.  This is because their expectations of their mom’s kitchen are huge.  Comparisons and competitions birth new pain for many newly wedded wives and the pattern goes on because men place heavy expectations on women. The feeling that a mother has to slave around her husband and children has gone around in our society for centuries and has become part of our culture.

Another horrific thing occurs a lot in India and perhaps around the globe where abusive words are made in the name of women such as motherfu…., sisterfu…. and other belittling anti-female words such as cun…etc.  One asks why do all these curses and denigrating words are allotted to women only.  Phrases like, “Kya, churiya pahen rakhi hain?” (Do you wear bangles?”) actually implies in a male dominant society that a woman is weak.  This has become patterned in our daily lives and people don’t even realize how downgrading it is, including women themselves who often join crowds in deprecating other women too because they have been mentally drilled to do so from childhood.

Fourthly, referring to Muslims, I do not see anything negative in their scriptures or as a matter of fact in any religion that reveals any anti-woman scripture.  However, it is true that almost all religious clerics and leaders have used their religious scripture to put down women.

It is the same among Muslims.  Islam is considered to be the most progressive religion for a woman because they give equal rights to women in many aspects, particularly in education.  In Islam, education is mandatory for both men and women.  The hard reality is Muslims do not give an equal education to both girls and boys, and with an open bias, they give priority to their sons for everything.

Muslim clerics have mandated rules barring women from entering mosques, particularly in the subcontinents. The same is not in the Arab world where men and women pray together in Kaaba in Mecca.  Here in India particularly, Muslim clerics say that gathering together is prohibited in Islam, but this is not true.

In this same manner, girls are restricted in education because Muslim clerics do not allow their daughters in co-educational schools for fear of their daughters falling into danger or getting into relationships. They worry that their daughter may fall in love with someone, or have illicit love affairs.  Out of these fears, they do not send their daughters to schools and colleges.

Dr. Jalis Akhtar Nasiri emphasized that the truth is it all depends on choices and the way daughters think and it is a case of individual natures and personalities.  What they panic might happen if their daughters go out, might actually happen in their homes, and localities.  It is known that even family members sexually exploit girls.  Unfound fears have kept the girls restricted at home, unable to study further.

He questioned if anyone asks the same question if their sons go out, whether they would be involved in an illicit relationship or fall in love with someone.  Their sons do fall into relationships.  Some boys even go to prostitutes, which girls do not do.  Chances of indulging in illicit things are more with sons and less with daughters, but still, in some strange way, parents feel terrified of sending their daughters to colleges and universities but there are more chances their sons will fall into trouble.  Why is the entire Sharia applied to women only to restrict them tightly?

These things generally happen with Muslims who use religion erroneously simply to suppress women. They create things that are not stated in Islam and the people blindly follow.

In all this, the focus is not on the mother, or the father, nor are we describing the merits of serving parents, but rather the focus of this discussion is how we unknowingly exploit women at every stage of their life.  This starts with her parents, who discriminate against her because she is a girl, then her husband who uses her as a domestic helper, and finally her own children who act as if she is a servant demanding her attention all the time.  This attitude of demand and expectation with denigration creeps into society.

It is noticed in workplaces, and on the Internet, one sees men especially belittling women more.  It is particularly surprising when these comments come from so-called “secular, liberal” men.   He brought out that these patterns of chauvinism and inequality are so deeply rooted in society and have gone on for ages that even many men who call themselves liberal are caught in this web thinking.  It is a mindset that needs to be changed because, over generations, everyone has become habituated to doing it.  It is time society makes efforts to break out of that web thinking and be truly liberated.

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