Movement without Freedom for Women

 In Articles

Recorded history tells us that in early ages, women were considered as inferior sex for being emotion-oriented individuals with lesser physical and mental strengths.  Their freedom was depended on the approval of their fathers, brothers or spouses, and some sort of movement for any reason was escorted by males from their family or otherwise those women were associated as loose characters in the society.  Over the time, this global false impression evolved into a more equitable approach towards women and their mobility became fully independent in many parts of the world and partially in developing countries.  The change was made noticeable in 1948 when UNGA drafted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and stated in article 13 that “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.”[1]

We are in this new era of modernity which speaks bluntly for an impartial society, and freedom for every individual to think, speak and move for his or her own preference, but there are still a large number of women in developing countries who are denied their basic rights and opportunities under the same philosophy of preceding centuries.  In addition, certain religious clerics have been justifying these actions in light of religion to aid their self-interests whereas they have yet to prove the legitimacy of such claims. Obviously, being a developing country with higher illiteracy rate, it came handy for these clerics to intensify their influence.

If we only talk about women in rural areas of Pakistan, more than three-quarters of women population are constrained behind the walls under these sham beliefs. Mostly, women’s mobility is restrained in early ages, affecting their education, socializing potentials and grooming.  Even the married women are not allowed to leave their premises without a male and even in many cases, the clothing and grocery shopping is done by men. They are also not permitted to talk to other men in any regard until or unless it’s a life or death matter.

This restriction on mobility cannot be blamed on government polices because even the constitution of Pakistan gives freedom of movement to everybody. But yes, there have been no efforts to ensure the implementation of article 15, “Freedom of movement- Every citizen shall have the right to remain in, and, subject, to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof.” [2] 

There is another side of this reality, where fear of harassment and violence against women is taken as some kind of justification for all the restraints on mobility. However, it is essential to understand that the same constitution gives protection to women in every aspect, and fear alone is not enough to validate the socio-economic disempowerment of women.

As a society and a sovereign country, we need to address this subject with primary importance because if the citizens don’t have the freedom of mobility, how can a country be called independent.  Also, it might not require any change in policies, but rather just the nerve to implement the ones already made.

Sources:

[1] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNGA 1948.

[2] Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

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