Pakistani journalist and social activist Sabeen Mahmud was a vocal woman who dared to speak up against the injustices around her. In early 2015,
she organized the “Unsilenced Voices” event at the Secondhand bookstore in Karachi, to bring awareness about issues such as child sexual abuse and gender inequality. This speech was one of the last things she ever said publicly before going into hiding for safety reasons.
Just four days after this event, on Friday, April 17th, 2015, she left home never to be seen again until her dead body was found a few days later in DHA.
The brutal murder of Sabeen Mahmud shook not only the media community but also many other individuals who did not know her personally but admired what she stood for and what she believed in.
We would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to this brave woman by sharing her speech from that fateful day –> –
Child sexual abuse
One of the main problems that plague Pakistani society and keep women and children in bondage is the issue of childhood sexual abuse.
This issue is shrouded in secrecy, shame and stigma. And the most affected are poor and uneducated families who cannot afford to send their children to the best schools.
There are thousands of schools operating in which are not bein Pakistang monitored by the government.
Many of these schools have become a safe place for sexual predators who lure innocent and unsuspecting children by making them gifts like toys or by promising them to pay them a higher fee for their studies.
Gender inequality in Pakistan
Sabeen was also a great believer in gender equality. But unfortunately, in a country like Pakistan, where patriarchy and misogyny run deep,
women are being denied their basic rights. Some of the examples of gender inequality in Pakistan are, 1. Women being denied their right to vote,
2. Women being denied their right to inheritance, 3. Women being denied their right to seek divorce and 4. The increasing incidents of honour killings. Most of the time,
these issues are being debated by women’s rights groups who have formed their own organizations and have started awareness campaigns to bring these issues to the forefront.
Sabeen was one of the people who wanted to bring these issues to the forefront. Unfortunately, she had to pay with her life.
Women empowerment is a huge issue that needs to be discussed and debated on a larger platform. In Pakistan, the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated,
both men and women are treated as second-class citizens. But what is the solution to this problem? One of the ways to empower women is to educate them.
Educating a woman is giving her the power to make better decisions in her life and make her an independent person. A society can be called enlightened and modern only if its women are treated as equals.
This can be done by giving women the right to vote,
inheritance and also the right to seek divorce. Unfortunately, in our society, a woman’s word is taken as half a word. A woman’s is not given her due respect.
Violence against women
Unfortunately, when it comes to violence against women in Pakistan, one name pops up in every person’s head and that is that of Mukhtaran Mai.
Mukhtaran Mai has been struggling for her cause for the last decade. She has been fighting for the rights of all the women who have been subjected to violence and have been treated as outcasts in their own society.
Mukhtaran Mai had been gang-raped back in the year 2002. Her crime was that she had dared to report her village officials because they had molested her and her younger brother.
But instead of taking action against the perpetrators, the police had falsely implicated her in a false case of illicit relations with some person.
This is the state of affairs in Pakistan today. The society is in a state of strife, and the cause of this turmoil is the lack of respect for women. It is high time that we challenged the status quo.
We must fight to end violence against women, and we must end gender discrimination. Above all, we should respect the opinions and sentiments of others even if we disagree with them.
We must not let our emotions cloud our reason, because once we do that, we become like animals, and civilisation