The ‘gaze’ problem and the working environment for women

This was written as a quick reaction to Avoiding the Gaze , an article that appeared in the Daily Tribune Pakistan. Reading the article before reading this post is highly recommended.

The plight of working women in Pakistan is a story that needs to get more limelight.In our country ,somehow, we have focus on all the wrong things and seldom do we sit and discuss our problems at any forum whatsoever. Women are an essential part of the society and a society that does not allow freedom to Women does not even deserve to be called a ‘society’. It is sad that we have continued to be a failure in this regard and yet we do not see any movement towards finding a solution.

It is a fact that women are gazed at. Men in Pakistan are so used to it its like their second nature. It doesn’t matter if the woman is in a proper hijab.Men somehow still try to scan the woman.The culture on the streets is disgusting to say the least. Women are often the topic of discussion among  friends and colleagues.It starts from the schools , colleges and continues on to the universities and office.There is simply no respite from it.

So what is the solution?

First of all we need to understand the problem itself.Why do men tend to look at women as objects? One part of the answer lies in the media. We live in such times where item girls and porn stars are getting mainstream. Such objectification and easy access to it gets men into the habit of looking at every other woman. Sadly we are promoting this at every level. The influence of Bollywood and Hollywood were one thing.Now its into cricket as well. Glamour became part and parcel of cricket due to introduction of IPL. The Pakistanis who are fond of picking things up from other cultures instantly adopted it. One fails to understand why didn’t we think of something different – like drummers – instead of cheer girls.And its not just the cheer girls. There are models and actresses who come to the ground promoting themselves as objects.Cricket is the most watched sports in Pakistan. Once you also use it as a tool to objectify women what should you expect in return?

There is little women can do to rectify this. A whole culture of watching women has been built up and its just getting worst.Hijab , dressing up and your demeanor to ensure that you catch lesser attention is just one side of the coin. What is needed is a collective effort on part of the society to train men how to behave respectfully around women. Cyber Policing by parents is a must and if the government can do it its even better. Most movies can be shown without item songs but access to them on internet must also be made difficult if not blocked.

Another important think is for the young men to be married early. They should tie a knot as soon as possible rather than spending years of their lives ogling and chasing different girls. This culture is very important if we need to build anything justified to be called a ‘society’. Those who analyze things know that the problem is getting out of hand.A society built on commercial values is not helping us in being humans.

With all this another important thing is training men on corporate level. There is no harm in putting things in your policies and giving people orientation sessions on it. The problem with women moving around the workplace , not having a common room , not having bathrooms is more of a problem with a government sector. Someone needs to push the female lawmakers to do something about it. Separate facilities for women should be available in all public areas wherever possible. Women sports is non-existent in Pakistan. Sports complex in every city is essential to solving this problem as well. Let the youngsters spend their time on healthy activities rather than wasting time outside a girl’s college. Promote a culture of competition. Let there be different timings for boys and girls so that both can benefit from the sports culture.

There is so much that needs to be done and yet there is so little that is being done about it.One can only, in the end, feel for women living in Pakistan especially the young ones , as the problem is going to get more complex in the coming times.




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