Voicing the concerns of women!

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What makes human beings exceptional from animals appears to be a pretty simple fact. One would possibly argue that smarter brain, rational thinking, language and communication skills, cultural norms, the extraordinary discoveries beginning from fireplace to fighter jets and so on are a vast mass of evidence to show that humans are far better than other species. Progressed from hunter-gatherers to industrial revolutions, digitalization and Artificial intelligence human beings have had great time on the planet. But despite all this human society continues to fight many inherent flaws and among them is the gender bias.

It is a fact that one of the most important tasks the current society has to tackle is the gender bias and the crimes against women. This is regardless of the truth that women were at the vanguard of human development and yet have faced inequality and exploitation for ages. It was with the dawning of 20th century that women, all around the global, started to protest for their rights and equality which Islam had already given to them and had drafted a great blueprint of a successful, moral and just society.

In the west and in Europe women were considered as secondary citizens, enslaved, objectified, who had to nearly fight for everything including right to vote, to property, to even opine, etc. The commercial revolution of the 1850s introduced many adjustments within the social set up. Before this, women had been restricted to houses and were allowed to take up most effective conventional jobs.

Over a time frame the cost of living increased and women had to earn too and actively participate in the responsibilities of citizenry. Modernization of the textile industry also played a crucial role in seeing women entering the workforce.  But even then there were wage disparities and discrimination and around the year 1910, women and socialist groups in the west, Europe and Russia began the women’s rights movement demanding equal pay, universal adult franchise, anti-discriminatory laws and amicable atmosphere for creating awareness among the women.

During the ancient and the middle ages, people had the notion that woman were born to look after the household activities and manage the children. Islam, as a religion of peace and justice stressed that men and women are morally equals in God’s sight and are expected to fulfill the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Islam tremendously improved the status of women and compared to earlier Arab cultures, provisions for prohibiting female infanticide and recognizing women’s full personhood were a norm in the new Islamic Arab. Islamic law emphasizes the contractual nature of marriage, requiring that a token (Maher) be paid to the woman rather than to her family and guaranteeing women’s rights of inheritance and to own and manage property. Women were also granted the right to live in the maternal home and receive financial assistance during marriage and a waiting period following death and divorce. Aishah, one of the wives of Islamic prophet, was a well-known authority in medicine and history and a great narrator of Hadith (Prophets Sayings). Some distinguished women converting to Islam prior to their husbands was a demonstration of Islam’s recognition of their capacity for independent action.

But human civilization is yet to fully understand and comes to terms with the fact the gender bias is a crime and needs to go away if we have to progress, prosper and attain highest moral status. Violence, bias, injustice and exploitation of women are rampant event today and even in Muslim societies which otherwise have a rich history and tradition of valuing women and considering them at par with men in nearly all matters. It is sheer violation of the basic Islamic principle of justice and equality taught to us by the beloved prophet and by the word of Almighty. We are taking liberties with our religion, morality, our history and our collective intellect if we aren’t ensuring that crimes against women must end.

(The writer is an author, counselor and columnist and can be reached at [email protected])

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