Lessons to Learn from Zainab, Noor and Dua Zehra


The cultural dynamics surrounding women, and their social status is a quandary. For many, Pakistan is a great place to be a female: she gets a separate counter at banks, and public offices, she does not have to stand in long queues to buy a kilo of yoghurt from the local shop. Contrarily,  incidents of violence against women seem to be on a steady rise in the country. Whether you are travelling with your children, going to your neighbor’s place to study the Quran, a woman can never be too careful. Multiple factors have attributed to this rise in violence against women. For starters, our age old norms separate the private and the public. Thus, if a woman steps out in the public space, she is public property. Therefore, it is better to hide away within the four walls of her home. But that still would not justify the horrendous crimes men in our society commit against the women they are born to protect.

Secondly, men hardly get the blame for the crimes they have committed. Boys will be boys still stands true in our society, and therefore, it will be foolish to hold them accountable for acting according to their nature. Lastly, the concept of honor is solely attached with the females of one’s household. If a woman is raped, she is considered to have her honor looted from her. Especially, the jargon for rape, commonly used in Pakistan is izzat lut gaye (honor has been plundered), ignoring the fact that it is the perpetrator who has slaughtered his own honor when he decided to violate a woman’s body. 

However, another major factor to consider in these three cases is the role played by the parents, particularly fathers of the victims. In each of the cases: Zainab, Dua Zehra and Noor Mukadam, it was the fathers who stood by their daughter, and fought tooth and nail to get justice for their departed angels. The primordial narrative that has overshadowed women’s rights in Pakistan is gradually waning, thanks to the brave fathers. These men went against the society who was ready to thrash the characters  of each of the victims, and showed the world that a strong father stands by his daughter even if she is no longer with him. Unlike what happened in the case of Qandeel Baloch, the honor was not attached with the girls, rather the dishonor belonged to the culprits of those heinous crimes; the murderers who believed they will get away with their evil deeds only because they are men, and patriarchy suits their agenda.

These rare incidents serve as an example. A girl can accomplish anything if her father is by her side. But, such experiences should not happen in the first place. A girl should not be murdered in cold blood. She should be safe enough to stand on her feet, and be free to live as she pleases. Zainab, 6, was going to learn the Quran when she was abducted by Qaari Imran. Noor wanted to end her relationship with Zaheer. Instead of accepting and respecting her wishes, he made the decision of ending her life. We need to stop idealising the notion that women are a “man’s property”. The idea that if we can’t have her, no one can, needs to be eradicated. We, especially men, need to treat women as their equals, and understand that females have agency, and have a voice that should be heard, and not turned down. It is the duty of their fathers to believe in their daughters, fight for them, and help them overcome the suffocating norms of this society. 


 By Amna Sheikh



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