Archive for Women

Women’s Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2009 by Umer

by Danish Khan

The science of Genetics and Human Anatomy can not rationalize the oppression faced by women, and their supposed inferiority relative to the men in today’s society. The oppression and exploitation of women are not rooted in their biology, instead they are originated from certain socio-economic conditions. If you travel across the globe you will see women in different roles and in different clothing. But the one thing that all women share in common is the highest degree of oppression and exploitation. It is true that in advanced industrialist societies women are enjoying relatively more freedom and rights as compared to the ones in underdeveloped feudal remnant societies.

To understand the discrimination and the oppression of women in advanced Capitalist countries, we need to completely understand their economic system which is Capitalism. Capitalism depends on the subjugation of women for its very survival. Sexism, racism and every other divisive tool the capitalists possess are vital wedges needed to drive apart male workers from their female comrades in order to prevent the rise of Workers Unity that can defeat this system of oppression. Women have been stringed in such an intense and rigorous life style, they have to take care of their children, home and they also have to work to make both ends meet. Shouldering this extra weight leaves the women workers with little free time to become politically active. This leads women to being forced into the most exploitative living conditions.

While on the other hand when we analyze the material conditions of women of Pakistan and Kashmir, it really reflects the true nature of feudal remnants and tribalism. Women in our society are the most vulnerable creatures. They have been restrained from any economic activity which results in to their role as secondary citizens. Women in our societies are still living in the slavery mode. The ruling class of the country is taking the most advantage of this miserable situation of 49% of the population.

Women in Pakistan and Kashmir are living under strict religious, family and tribal customs that essentially force them to live in submission and fear. Women are subjected to discrimination and violence on a daily basis due to the cultural and religious norms which are the by product of the socio-economic system. According to the recent report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, only 2 percent of Pakistani women participate in the formal sector of employment. 93 percent of rural women and 72 percent of urban women are illiterate. The Male dominance and commodification subjects women to violence on a daily basis in Pakistan. Approximately 70 to 90 percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence. The murder in the name of “honor,” is one of the worst practices of our society. The rape occurs in Pakistan every two hours with one in every 12,500 women being victims of rape. Five women per day are killed. These are the drastic and terrifying statistics pleading to us to take immediate action for the emancipation of these oppressed women. Although there are feminist groups working in Pakistan but they are funded by certain lobby groups, thus their efforts and willingness is very limited because they are trying to improve the living conditions of women in the jurisdiction of the present socio economic system. Thus the only real hope for the emancipation of oppressed women is the revolutionary Marxists of the country. While a common theme shared by liberal feminist groups and the conservatives that men and women have competing interests. We totally reject this kind of thinking, we understand that Bourgeois class has an interest in maintaining gender divisions, while we Marxists have an interest in breaking them down. We fight along class lines for justice and equality not because as some academics have asserted, “Marxism doesn’t understand the women’s struggle”, but for precisely the opposite reason. Marxism is infused with over 150 years of experience in the struggle against the exploitation and oppression of women. In February 1917, it was the women of Petrograd who marched from factory to factor, rousing their sons, brothers and fathers out into the streets. In February 2009, two Iranian female political activists were sentenced to 100 lashes in public for attending a May Day rally.

It is understood that in the limits of the present socio economic system it is almost impossible to improve the living conditions of women. The only real solution to the problems of Pakistani and Kashmiri women is the revolutionary Marxism. We believe there can be no revolution without the emancipation of women. The progressive revolutionary movement is starting to revive again in our society. It is the prerequisite of our revolution to educate and aware our women. We believe women are going to play the most decisive role in the success of our Red Revolution.

In the name of honour

Posted in Communist Movement, Law, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by Umer

The Aug. 15-29, 2008 issue of the Frontline carried the theme of caste-based violence and killings in the name of honour. The urgent relevance of the topic emerged from the an instance in Dharana, near Haryana, where a local panchayat ordered the ouster of a family from a village on the grounds that a member of the family had married outside of caste in violation of the parampara (tradition).

The Red Diary has frequently raised the issue of caste system and emphasised the importance that caste plays in the socio-political make-up of the South Asian sub-continent. The Red Diary here presents the interview of Brinda Karat to Frontline regarding caste system and its impact women.

Interview with Brinda Karat, MP and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member.

ONE of the few parliamentarians with a record of raising women’s issues both in and outside Parliament, Brinda Karat feels that honour killings and honour-related harassment do not get the attention they deserve from the executive or the legislature. She says that it was time political parties came together on this issue. In an interview to Frontline, she explained the importance of recognising these crimes as a separate category and the need for special laws to deal with them as had been done in the case of sati. Excerpts:

In your view, how serious are honour killings and crimes related to honour? You raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha and it evoked a response from the Home Minister and several other members cutting across party lines

I had asked a question in Parliament on the number of killings relating to honour that had taken place so far and the reply I received from the government was that they do not recognise such a category and, therefore, there was no separate collection of such data.

According to a 2008 judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, it was stated that there were thousands of cases of young couples who had been victimised because they crossed the lakshman rekha determined by their communities, castes or families.

It is a shame that even today there is no legal definition of the term honour killing or honour crime. As a result, the perpetrators of such crimes more often than not get away with murder, torture, assault, and violation of laws regarding atrocities committed on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. And they continue to commit them with impunity.

The extent of the crime is underestimated, it is made invisible and young men and women just disappear without a trace as though they had never lived. Hence, it is essential for the government to not only define the crime but also start collecting separate data, for unless the existence of the crime itself is recognised, it is difficult to deal with it in any form.

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No Woman, No Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2009 by Umer

From Communist University [South Arfica]

Feminism, particularly in the field of politics itself, has often proved to work to the advantage of the bourgeoisie. Examples would be the elevation of Helen Zille, Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright and Hilary Clinton to leadership.

What happens in those cases is that agitation leads to a correct requirement that more women be promoted to leadership. But then, at the critical moment, no female candidate appears, except the well-prepared female candidate of the reactionaries. The result is a catastrophe for all, and especially for the women

In the Umsebenzi Online of 6 August 2009 the SACP General Secretary, Dr Blade Nzimande, wrote that the majority of the membership of the Young Communist League at present is young black women.

This remarkable achievement ranks alongside of the achievement of the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress which elected a National Executive Committee that consists of 50% women and 50% men.

This indicates that there is now an established stream of women cadres at an equivalent scale to men, and that their placement in leadership is happening. These achievements are the result of consistent work and determination over many years. They cannot be regarded as extra, or simply “nice-to-have”. They are necessary building blocks of Socialism.

The proletarian revolution is inconceivable without the involvement of the more than 50% of the population which is female. That is the general situation.

But the particular situation is that the working-class movement and its allies must be able to find winning female candidates at all levels and must never again be put in the position of seeing a reactionary being elected because she is a woman, only because there is no working-class woman candidate.

Alexandra Kollontai understood all this very well. In 1908 she wrote: The feminists seek equality in the framework of the existing class society, in no way do they attack the basis of this society.” (the full document is linked below). “Where, then, is that general “woman question”? Where is that unity of tasks and aspirations about which the feminists have so much to say? A sober glance at reality shows that such unity does not and cannot exist,” wrote Kollontai.

This text will be followed in coming days by others relating to women, under the general series title of “No Woman, No revolution”.

Click on this link:

Social Basis of the Woman Question, abstract, Kollontai, 1909(6619 words)

The Communist University (CU) holds live sessions weekly in Johannesburg, South Africa. CU – the wiki – is the interactive archive of education, organisation and mobilisation that is our main base on the Internet. CU – the Library – has many classic texts and study courses. The CU is not a constitutional structure of the South African Commnist Party.

Ban the Burqa?

Posted in Books & Authors, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2009 by Umer

The following article appeared in the New York Times and deals with one important debates that have erupted from the speech made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy where he stated that the Burqa is not welcome in Franch territory. While the statement made by Sarkozy may be drenched in racism, as many may argue, what should be the independent position of the Left over the issues of women’s veil? Is the Left doomed to decide its position based on the opposition of others (a position of reaction)? Or, can it have an independent and principled position of its own? How does the Left in Pakistan see the question of women’s veil?

The New York Times article discusses the issue of women’s veil from the point of view of a women’s identity as an individual. Another way of looking the issue of veil is by understanding it as an institution deeply linked with patriarchy, rather than merely as an individual choice (which may also be very important). What must also be questioned is the implication that the veil have have on the society at large.

The late Mazhar-ul-Haq Khan, Professor at Peshawar University, wrote a throughly about patriachal institutions in Muslim societies in  his book ‘Pardah and Polygmy: Social pathology of Muslim Societies’ (1972). The fundamental thesis of Mazhar-ul-Haq’s book is that the two interlinked institutions of pardah (veil) and polygamy are the main factors behind the decadence and stagnation of the Muslim societies. Not only they are based on incorrect interpretations of Islam, argued Mazhar-ul-Haq, they inculcate a sense of inhibition, fear and loss of identity in the family structures suppressing the spirit initiative, creativity, adventure, and openness in both males and females from their childhood (all of which are necessary for collective and individual progress). Why is it that Muslim societies have failed to produced men and women of science for many years? The same can be said of other fields of study, though with some variance. While the rest of the world has progressed by leaps and bounds, why are the Muslim societies still trailing behind?

These questions require us to delve deeper in the issue rather than giving knee-jerk and reaction-bases answers.

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Ban the Burqa

By MONA ELTAHAWY
Published: July 2, 2009

NEW YORK — I am a Muslim, I am a feminist and I detest the full-body veil, known as a niqab or burqa. It erases women from society and has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with the hatred for women at the heart of the extremist ideology that preaches it.

We must not sacrifice women at the altar of political correctness or in the name of fighting a growingly powerful right wing that Muslims face in countries where they live as a minority.

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Towards theocracy

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by Umer

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy

Frontline on net

Note: This article appeared in the Frontline magazine of India. Therefore, the contents of the article and the message is addressed to the Indian audience. The article, nevertheless, is highly essential for us living in Pakistan.

Towards Theocracy: State and Society in Pakisan Today 

EMILIO MORENATTI/AP

Women in burqas and children from the Bajaur and Mohmand agency areas wait to be registered at a refugee camp near Peshawar in January. Today a full-scale war is being fought in FATA, Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, with thousands dying and hundreds of thousands of displaced people streaming into cities and towns.  

FOR 20 years or more, a few of us in Pakistan have been desperately sending out SOS messages, warning of terrible times to come. Nevertheless, none anticipated how quickly and accurately our dire predictions would come true. It is a small matter that the flames of terrorism set Mumbai on fire and, more recently, destroyed Pakistan’s cricketing future. A much more important and brutal fight lies ahead as Pakistan, a nation of 175 million, struggles for its very survival. The implications for the future of South Asia are enormous.

Today a full-scale war is being fought in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, with thousands dying and hundreds of thousands of IDPs (internally displaced people) streaming into cities and towns. In February 2009, with the writ of the Pakistani state in tatters, the government gave in to the demand of the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban Movement) to implement the Islamic Sharia in Malakand, a region of FATA. It also announced the suspension of a military offensive in Swat, which has been almost totally taken over by the TTP. But the respite that it brought was short-lived and started breaking down only hours later.

The fighting is now inexorably migrating towards Peshawar where, fearing the Taliban, video shop owners have shut shop, banners have been placed in bazaars declaring them closed for women, musicians are out of business, and kidnapping for ransom is the best business in town. Islamabad has already seen Lal Masjid and the Marriot bombing, and has had its police personnel repeatedly blown up by suicide bombers. Today, its barricaded streets give a picture of a city under siege. In Karachi, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), an ethnic but secular party well known for strong-arm tactics, has issued a call for arms to prevent the Taliban from making further inroads into the city. Lahore once appeared relatively safe and different but, after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, has rejoined Pakistan.

The suicide bomber and the masked abductor have crippled Pakistan’s urban life and shattered its national economy. Soldiers, policemen, factory and hospital workers, mourners at funerals, and ordinary people praying in mosques have been reduced to hideous masses of flesh and fragments of bones. The bearded ones, many operating out of madrassas, are hitting targets across the country. Although a substantial part of the Pakistani public insists upon lionising them as “standing up to the Americans”, they are neither seeking to evict a foreign occupier nor fighting for a homeland. They want nothing less than to seize power and to turn Pakistan into their version of the ideal Islamic state. In their incoherent, ill-formed vision, this would include restoring the caliphate as well as doing away with all forms of western influence and elements of modernity. The AK-47 and the Internet, of course, would stay.

But, perhaps paradoxically, in spite of the fact that the dead bodies and shattered lives are almost all Muslim ones, few Pakistanis speak out against these atrocities. Nor do they approve of military action against the cruel perpetrators, choosing to believe that they are fighting for Islam and against an imagined American occupation. Political leaders like Qazi Husain Ahmed and Imran Khan have no words of kindness for those who have suffered from Islamic extremists. Their tears are reserved for the victims of predator drones, whether innocent or otherwise. By definition, for them terrorism is an act that only Americans can commit.

Why the Denial?

 

To understand Pakistan’s collective masochism, one needs to study the drastic social and cultural transformations that have made this country so utterly different from what it was in earlier times. For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula.

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