It was way back in August of 2008, when I had just joined my M. Phil program at Kashmir university’s prestigious research centre called the Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS), that on a bright sunny afternoon at about 2 p.m., I caught a glimpse of a boy, just a few yards away from the famous Allama Iqbal library, slapping a girl right on her face about seven to ten times.
The moment I reached the scene, the culprit fled on a bike. The girl was shivering and weeping profusely; shedding innocent tears. Her note books were lying on the road, her documents scattered all over the ground. She was standing ashamed, hiding her face and identity from the people passing by. She was insulted, shaken and trembling with fear and frightened.
The boy had beaten her right on the road; he had raged individuality and self image of the girl who was hardly 21-years-old. He had beaten her ruthlessly in public inside the university campus.
No body knew what the matter was. I caught a glimpse of the scene a little late and by then the culprit had escaped and completed his outburst on the innocent soul. She kept on weeping and her trembling continued because of the public gaze and emotional trauma. I approached the scared creature, collected her note books from her surroundings and asked her to narrate what the matter was, but she was dumbfounded and shocked, unable to utter a word.
As I had seen the culprit escaping the scene on a bike on seeing me, it was understood that someone -the so called student in the highest seat of learning had bruised her self respect, someone who claims himself to be very educated, had tortured her in open. The pity that everyone was passing by her on the road and hardly anybody bothered to interfere. This reflects the acute level of individualism, instrumentalism and self-centeredness, acquired by this civilized society.
No one felt the need to spare a few moments of their time to stop the bad man. No one bothered to ask him anything about his brutality and savagery and sympathize with the poor girl or accompanied her or spent some time with her or tried to empathize her.
I tried hard to restore her self confidence and positive mental state, tried a lot to make her smile, tried to counsel her. As expected the bruised soul was silent but her silence narrated a pathetic tale to me. I began to wonder, if he were her boyfriend, then can he afford to insult her like that? If he were her brother, can a brother afford to commit such a ruthless act to her sister? If he were a relative, what made him do so, or who allowed him to go to that extent? Was the boy justified to malice and attack her individuality? Why was the girl still silent and unwilling to resist the scene? Was it because of her gender, culture of submissiveness, power relation of gender, normative structure, culture of violence, lack of attitude, irritable temper of men in society?
She couldn’t for a long time stop her tears but my company paid off in the last. I was happy when she began to utter feeble words. But she remained reserved to discuss the matter. Lastly she asked for her departure from my company but was so frightened and scared that she requested me to accompany her to the bus stop. She thanked me humbly for the company, which I provided her, and while leaving she whispered a single sentence that she was a female, so was bound to suffer. This struck to my heart so painfully.
I wondered, if this is the situation and treatment in the open then what must be the real scene of atrocities inside the four walls. How many such events must occur everyday? Giving it a sociological interpretation, I pondered over it and concluded that equality, morality, reason, rationality, egalitarianism, constitution, education, right to live with dignity, right to life, security, etc, all still lies in books and theories in our world.
We only know to talk about equality for women in papers and conferences, but the actual context is something different. Gender discrimination and gender violence is increasing day by day, no issues who is responsible, whether men or women by themselves. The most important point worth considering is that new types of crimes are emerging in our society. What we had not even thought of till the recent past.
We see even well-read and working ladies are harassed, and even abused by their families, not to talk of the rest of the female folk.
On one hand Khaps have created a doom spelling impact on youths, honour killings is the order of the day at many places, on the other powerful and inadequate parenting is taking the toll on child and youth psychology.
Due to the advent of modernity romantic love has too crept in and boyfriend-girlfriend relations seem to be the norm and craze. We are witnessing big amount of drug addiction and vulgarity among the students and youths purely due to the availability of much more disposable income and pocket money. We can now even see female teachers harassed by their young and small students, eve-teasing and passing comments on young ladies, college girls, school girls and others. Stalking is very common, all having its negative ramifications on the holistic society.
We are witnessing the new phase of violence already started, be it in the shape of dating, restaurant meets, immorality, beating incidents, girlfriends craze and girlfriend culture, phone dating, phone sex, harassing trend and finally blackmailing. At this critical juncture the only message to women folk is to wake up and realize their selves.
Khamoshi se Dunya Tujay Jeenay Nahi Deygi
Is Daur Main Rehna hai to kuhraam machado
All of this poses certain questions with a big and alarming question marks at the end, that is our education, even higher education, contributing anything to inculcate morality? And do we need value-based education or education based on humanitarianism and reason? Can the present education enable us to be judged at the moral, intellectual and universalistic standard? The philosopher poet of the east, Allama Iqbal says,
Ny Pardyy, NA Taleem Nayi Ho Ki Purani
Niswaniyet-e-Zann Ka Nigehbaan Hai Faqt Mard
But we are busy in ravaging her modesty and instructing her to sit, stand, walk, talk as per our orders and will.
[Syed Adfar Rashid Shah is a contributing writer and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org]