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‘A woman is a human too’

“Living in the country I live in, especially when you want to be ‘yourself’ as a woman, especially when you choose for yourself, when you become the God of your own life and when you try controlling your own body, can be difficult”. Women Talk Online reader from Pakistan, Rukhsana Shama pleads her case.

Some would say if one is determined to be oneself, nothing can stop him or her. One can always choose to be a rebel and exercise control over one’s own life. I used to think the same, until recently, when I realized, to my utmost shock, the level of moral policing that women in our society are subjected to. Each and every action of a woman is judged by a certain lens, by her family and by the society.

What I do is my business
What I wear is my choice
What I eat or drink is what my taste buds like
What I believe is my faith
But no, what I do is not my business, because in doing things I have to respect your so-called ‘honor.’ Even the slightest deviation would dishonor you, your religion or the honor of your country. The choices I make in my life are always seen in the context of religion, culture and your norms.

My love for you would always be conditioned by how much I give in or how much you tame me according to what you believe in.
If I don’t follow the rule of coming home on time (a ‘decent’ time a woman should get home), I don’t love you.
If I don’t dress according to your sense or norms of dressing, I don’t care for you.
If I choose not to listen to your demands, I am the most disgusting child ever born on the face of this planet.
You fail to understand that I love you, but I have a mind of my own which thinks and what I think can be different from what you think. Can’t we agree to disagree?

Why don’t you acknowledge, that…
I have a heart which has its own aspirations; I have my own path to tread.
I have, from my own experiences of life, come to know that certain beliefs I have grown up with are not right and that I would like to have my own set of beliefs and my own principles, which may differ from the kind of religion you believe in, the kind of rules and norms you follow.
You fail to see that my belief or non-belief in God doesn’t stem from my identity as Muslim but my identity as human.
You do not see that marriage is not the only thing I should be aspiring as a girl- it is love I desire.
You fail to see that my utmost gratitude for the way you have brought me up and my love for you don’t die if I choose to differ from you and that this love should not be conditioned with such conformities.
Yes, you can choose to dislike me if I choose a path of dishonesty, if I choose to be inhuman, if I choose not to do what I believe in.

I am honest to myself
I am aspiring to be a good human
I don’t lie to myself

All I do is I try to think and know and then act, I don’t look at myself and things around me through the kind of lenses you have. My lens is very simple, it is the lens of a human and I am a human too. With that I mean, ‘a woman’ is a human too.

Author: Rukhsana Shama

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Rukhsana Shama is a development activist based in Pakistan. She is an avid reader of Women Talk Online. If you are interested in writing for us, send in your blogs at You can also send a message on our Facebook page, DW-Women Talk Online.


04.10.2012 | 9:31