Empowerment and subordination of Pakistani women through patriarchy, elitism, class and gender discourses

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Women’s role in their own subordination is not unique to Pakistan; women across the globe have connived with the state and disempowered their own “sisters” legitimizing discriminatory practices. Muslim women of India inadvertently collaborated with their subjugators during the anti-colonial struggle and afterwards, due to unequal gender relations and their class and status in the private/ public spheres of the society. Muslim women’s relationship with the state is complex; they are citizens yet deprived of many rights on account of customary practices and religious decrees. Before independence they were asked to join hands with men, glorifying their historical role as mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives; after independence they contributed in nation-building through social welfare projects and rehabilitation work for refugees. Later, Islam was used to curtail their rights further and segregate them from mainstream society — all in the name of their protection. Now they have to make sacrifices again, as these are difficult times, and the threat of terrorism and religious militancy needs women to stay in line with Pakistani politics that marginalizes women. Pakistani women politicians, while criticizing the public flogging of young girls, approve Pakistani puritans who sanction these punishments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPakistan
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Rhetoric of Democracy to the Rise of Militancy
EditorsRavi Kalia
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780415670401
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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