Taslim Solangi, an 8 months pregnant Pakistani teen from Khairpur, was forced to give birth prematurely and then was thrown in front of a pack of dogs, all of this because her father-in-law claimed that the child she was expecting was out of wedlock.
Purported allegations of infidelity and adultery against her were enough for the in-laws, in cohorts with the local populace, to mete out this depraved form of tribal justice. Perpetrators of this barbaric act are yet to be captured by the local police even though the accused, while labeled as absconded, has openly made threats about killing the lynched teen’s mother. The baby, meanwhile, was disposed off in a canal.
News reports indicate that her father-in-law, Zamir Solangi, who is responsible for this gruesome act, took the pregnant girl from her mother’s and subsequently swore of the Holy Quran that he wouldn’t harm her. Religion and patriarchy make a fairly toxic cocktail in the Indian sub-continent and the ignorant masses are only too pleased to gulp it down by the gallon.
My earliest images of Pakistan’s women were shaped by the slightly asymmetrical and exaggerated (as duly pointed out by a lit-crit professor) accounts of gender based bias and discrimination in Tehemina Durrani’s Blasphemy. Today though, I don’t quite think the book as exaggerated as Dr D’Souza thought.
To be honest, I was quite scared of ever stepping foot anywhere beyond the LOC (“Line of Control” between India and Pakisran) and it had nothing to do with the perennial under-currents of violence and hatred, assumed or otherwise, between the two neighbors.
India and Pakistan share a murky history and a superior culinary culture plus a million other things. Yet despite celebrity proclamations of how it’s the “same” country both sides of the border, I know for a fact that’s not entirely true. We are different entities and the umbilical cord was severed quite a few decades ago.
Even so, you can relate to the urban Pakistani ecosystem a lot better if you come from the Northern part of India and I have been repeatedly informed by friends and mutants alike that much of Karachi will remind me of some of Delhi. I haven’t travelled the length and breadth of our Northern neighbor to validate that statement so I’ll make room for reasonable doubts than take it at face value.
My interest lies in a comparison of parities in the lives of an average Indian woman vis-à-vis one in Pakistan. There are differences galore, but quite a few similarities too. I do confess to very little information about rural Pakistani women in particular.
I am grown up enough now to believe that not every Pakistani household has its own feudal lord – though a significant amount of them are at the mercy of some lameass patriarchal messiah of sorts -and I am also firmly aware of the bitter truth that a very stringent sort of sexism prevalent in a large part of that country (as in mine) means a daily, almost ritualistic, persecution and defilement of women – emotionally, mentally, physically – as well as a thorough disregard for women’s rights.
Despite my usual preparedness for the abnormally grim, stories like Solangi’s still manage to scare me insane and fuel unbridled rage within me. Wrath is what I can feel right now, rising from the absolute pit of my stomach. Unadulterated and unmitigated anger. And I want to use this anger in a way that pulverizes the very core of our enforced patriarchal inheritance. I want my anger to be as brutal and as devoid of mercy as these murdering charlatans are.
I need revenge. We need revenge.
I could have chosen to satirize in my usual blasé manner because I find in humor – especially dark humor – a rock-hard and unshakable crutch. But this is not the time to seek crutches, it’s the time to demolish.
I beseech those academically fortified women amongst us, who love to deliberate about ethnocentric feminism’s strides in the warm comfort of their Ikea-decorated living rooms, to stand up and address this. Now. Without politeness and political correctness corrupting their ire. Because when young girls are left for dogs to feed on, very little room is left for civility.
What kind of monsters would force a teen to prematurely birth her child (who was subsequently thrown into a canal since he/she was deemed illegitimate by a killer father-in-law) and then based on some asinine rodent’s “wisdom” would throw her to a pack of rabid canines?
While this epic torture drama ensued, hitmen were sent after Taslim’s absconding mother to snuff out her life too. However, if all of this doesn’t inspire serious fear and fury in you, then take heart in the knowledge that a government official – a top level assistant commissioner, no less – was at the helm of these vile proceedings. Yes, officially signed, sealed and delivered, et al.
How many more women in the sub-continent have to bleed and scream before their voices can reach the world outside?
For every Mukhtaran Mai, a million Taslims are silently buried and disappear without a trace. But not this time. Definitely,
This time the water has reached our necks and it is lashing at its nape. It’s gurgling in our ears. It’s dirty and infected and it threatens to wash us away. It’s a hurricane of pain and disillusionment. It all boils down to one thing: Women are a long way from being ranked or even considered as human beings amidst some of the largest populations on the planet.
Who will speak about it? Who needs to speak about it?
We. We need to speak. No, actually, we need to do more than just speak about it, we need to scream, yell, shout, screech, holler, and tear apart the foundations of the universe if the need arises. This is not injustice to one, it’s injustice to all.
We all get torn apart when militant fangs dig into a pleading Taslim’s skin and heart. We can’t reduce ourselves to willing and mute witnesses to this century’s crimes against ourselves. We can’t afford to watch it till it simply “dies down” or “dissipates”. We can’t afford to be so static and unaffected. We must do something. We must seek justice.
We should, ideally, seek an eye for an eye because it just doesn’t work any other way – all due to respect to the Gandhian dogma and Bollywood movies inspired by it. For all that chest beating/bra burning in the name of the Sisterhood, it eventually boils down to this. This is the reality for brown women in our world.
It’s a large and fairly violent world but someone has to change it. Evolution needs catalysts. Theorizing and rationalizing will only take us so far. The rest of the journey is on foot. Without crutches. My crutches included.