By Azka Javeria
We are very sorry if this article looks scattered and disorganized. But it depicts our emotions and thoughts on this incident: scattered and disoriented.
The growing moral problems of our society demand change from every one of us. Each individual must understand his responsibility and play his role in curbing our moral decline especially in the absence of a fair judicial system. The increase in the number of rape cases or more specifically of ‘rapists’ is evidence that something is lacking in our Tarbiyah. Hence the first change must come from parents.
Salman Asif Siddiqui, Director ERDC and an educational psychologist, in his talk ‘Sex education and Tarbiyah’ talks about this issue in detail. He says that moral decline of a society occurs due to three reasons
- Lack of God consciousness – the primary reason
- Lack of connection – the next big reason; here we talk about connection with parents, family and God – fearing people.
- Immorality or immodesty – this is the third reason, the weakest reason
The first two problems, I believe, can only be solved by parents. And the only way to develop fear of Allah in children is for parents to be God fearing. Similarly parents also need to work on their bonding with their children; instead of seeking control over their children, a parent’s real duty is to raise the child so that he is mindful and responsible for his own actions. Reflective conversations on different topics should be part of the daily family routine and children – if not old enough to participate – should be present at the time. Also the topic of discussion shouldn’t be ‘sex’ but instead ‘Nafs’. Sex education at the age of 6 in schools is not a practical solution because it will only incite children more. As also stated by Mr. Siddiqui, ‘curriculum does not provide any solution to any problem’, as must be evident by the growing number of schools being proportional to the growing number of crime.
Children should indeed know about their body parts at the right age and time. They should know what is acceptable and what is not. It is important to understand that ‘Haya’ is natural, as Nouman Ali Khan puts it ‘there was no society to tell Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS) to cover up; they did it out of instinct.’ And it is the parents’ responsibility to maintain a sense of shame – ‘Haya’ – in the children. Women should not feed their children in front of everybody, nor should they change their clothes and diapers in front of others. That is the role of parents.
Coming to the role of men as individuals, what can they, as commoners, do to protect females and children from abusers? Firstly, Islam requires from us mindfulness. People need to take into account that in times like these it is very usual for a woman walking past random men to be extremely scared and uncomfortable. It is their responsibility in such cases to lower their gaze and if they are standing in groups then to disperse silently to allow free passage to the woman. Many males do not see any harm in catcalling or just looking; they must realize that it is these small deeds which lead on to bigger sins. Walking on the road and even hearing a loud laughter erupting from a group of men near you can be very disturbing for most of us.
Secondly if men see a woman in a difficult situation they should do what they can to help, in most cases just stopping by as if you know the woman who is being harassed can help. Even when someone, man or woman, is being robbed it is helpful to stop the car and turn your headlights to the brightest. I have known a situation like this and the robbers ran away. The psyche behind this is of course that the bully is more scared than the one he is bullying.
Thirdly if a woman from your family approaches you with a complaint you must listen to her and exercise any control you have over the situation. Do not blame her; nobody has the right to harass her even if she was doing something wrong. If you feel that she needs to fix some of her things, tell her that only after you take action against the harasser. Don’t invalidate her feelings or claims on the spot. This also applies to women working in a work space under you.
As Muslims we all must realize that for us to be true believers people around us should be safe from our speech as well as actions. As the Prophet (SA) also said: “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir (Emigrant) is the one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden.” (Muslim)
Lastly, as it is being suggested for women to learn self defense, keep pepper sprays and pocket knives so should men. They too may find themselves in such situations. Things are very unpredictable right now and they may also come in handy if you witness a woman in trouble.
We should all indeed learn self–defense and there are institutions as well as private teachers to help you out with that. It is also practical to check for child locks when sitting in a cab and being vigilant and alert of your surroundings. To keep weapons such as pocket knives, a rock or something similar is also handy. Body sprays and perfumes are a suitable alternative for pepper spray. There are numerous websites to tell what you should do if stranded in a car. Look it up and remember so you may apply it as per need. Women should also invest time and energy in physical fitness and work on their attention spans and focus. I understand that it is the state’s responsibility to make commuting safe for women, but till they do that we need to take as much care as possible and do what we can for ourselves.
May Allah make Pakistan a safer place to live and may He allow us all to play our part in eradicating evil from our society.