Pakistan is known to be an extremely conservative society that rebuffs women basic rights. In the country violence against women is persistent in the garb of so-called honour killings and other social evils.
Recently, the Islamic nation banned an article on Muslim women and sexuality, which exposed the extent of the country’s discrimination against women.
Mona Eltahawy, an award-winning Egyptian-American journalist and campaigner for women’s rights, wrote an article titled “Sex talk for Muslim women” for the opinion section of the International New York Times.
But, in Pakistan’s newspaper version of the New York Times — published as a section in the Express Tribune — the article was replaced by a blank space.
According to a source quoted in report by The Citizen, the newspaper “can’t afford to publish such controversial articles about Islam”.
Writer Eltahawy slammed the censorship and said that the decision to ban her article was an example of how Pakistan’s authorities think a woman “who claims ownership over her body is dangerous … and must be silenced”.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
“I am not a cleric, and I am not here to argue over what religion says about sex. I am an Egyptian, Muslim woman who waited until she was 29 to have sex and has been making up for lost time. My upbringing and faith taught me that I should abstain until I married. I obeyed this until I could not find anyone I wanted to marry and grew impatient. I have come to regret that it took my younger self so long to rebel and experience something that gives me so much pleasure…”
“We barely acknowledge the sexual straitjacket we force upon women. When it comes to women, especially Muslim women in the Middle East, the story seems to begin and end with the debate about the veil. Always the veil. As if we don’t exist unless it’s to express a position on the veil….”
“It has not been easy for my parents to hear their daughter talk so frankly about sex, but it has opened up a world of other women’s experiences. In many non-Western countries, speaking about such things is scorned as “white” or “Western” behavior. But when sex is surrounded by silence and taboo, it is the most vulnerable who are hurt, especially girls and sexual minorities…”
“But the issue of sex affects all women, not just those with money or a college degree. Sometimes, I hear the argument that women in the Middle East have enough to worry about simply struggling with literacy and employment. To which my response is: So because someone is poor or can’t read, she shouldn’t have consent and agency, the right to enjoy sex and her own body?…”
“My revolution has been to develop from a 29-year-old virgin to the 49-year-old woman who now declares, on any platform I get: It is I who own my body. Not the state, the mosque, the street or my family. And it is my right to have sex whenever, and with whomever, I choose…”
A few days back, a piece by Pakistani girl about having sex before marriage was also in the news. The article went viral and made the world aware about what Pakistan’s women think about intimacy, sexual desire and much more.
Interestingly, Pakistan is the largest porn viewing nation but talking about ‘sex’ is a taboo. Everything is happening in the country but the writing on the wall is clear that you really can’t talk about it.