The quality of humans, called “Humanity”, was endangered till now but the poison called “harassment” has pushed it towards extinction.
‘We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters…’
― Martin Luther King Jr.
In Pakistan as well as the rest of the world, certain cases of assaults on women have been showed on the mainstream media that leave one dumbstruck. These cases make one lose his/her faith in humanity. One such case, which came into sight several days ago, was that of assault on a female member of the famous cycling group, The Critical Mass Lahore (CML). Aneeqa Ali had set out alone on her bike at nearly 6 am in the morning to join other members of CML, when a group of delinquent men assaulted her by hitting her bike with their car. The girl sustained abrasions on her face and multiple other injuries.
‘She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.’
― Susan B. Anthony
The disappointment that reflects from this news turned into a ray of hope when Pakistani girls from the CML held a rally by the title of “Girls on bike”, in order to boost the morale of their fellow cyclist, a girl who keeps riding through the ups and downs of life. The faith in humanity is somewhat restored by the fact that those were the male members of CML who offered their bikes to the girls who didn’t have bikes for this demonstration. This proved to be a great step for women empowerment.
The mastermind behind this idea was Noor Rahman, a prominent member of CML. She had set out to break the stereotype that Pakistani girls are meant to make “Gol Rotis” and stay indoors. Explaining her motive, she said,
I always wanted women to be able to travel to different places on their own, never depending on male members. While taking public transport they often face harassment and they feel uncomfortable when they are in public. I wanted to change that.
Do you know: Pakistan ranks as the third most dangerous country for women to live in. (Source: Tribune)
Aneeqa Ali was the knight in a shining armor there, as she was the one in whose support the rally was organized. She was delighted to see so many girls showing up to encourage her. Aneeqa expressed her feelings, saying,
We have been cycling in Lahore since 2008. In the recent years a lot of beginners have started showing up. More females do show up now but it is the first time we have seen such a large number of women and girls show up for a particular ride.
This rally proved to be a step towards women empowerment in Pakistan. Not only women but men, like Muhammad Abdul Ghafoor, a retired colonel; a peace activist, Tahir Malik; and David, a student in Germany, were supporting the cause of these brave and energetic Pakistani girls and were of the view that they should reclaim the roads of Lahore and that they shouldn’t back off because of any obstacle in their way.
Angela Williams, the principal of Bloomfield Hall, encouraged the group of Pakistani girls, which also included her own daughters by her precious words. According to her, freedom of movement was everyone’s right and that the girls should travel freely without any kind of fear. Alivia Casa, who is a student and lives in London, thought of this rally as a positive step as she said,
I hope this initiative will help change people’s perception of women on the streets. I hope this would bring a positive change or at least makes the girl and her family feel that she is not alone.
This is not the first time that the stereotypes about the women of Pakistan have come crashing down. The myth that women are inferior was broken when Benazir Bhutto became the first women Prime Minister of Pakistan, when Ayesha Farooq twisted the key in F-16 and became the first fighter pilot of Pakistan, when Arfa Kareem became the youngest Microsoft professional of the world, when General Shahida Badhsah became the first three-star general of Pakistan, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won Oscar Award twice and that too in two consecutive years, and when recently Sana Mir, the Captain of Pakistan Cricket team, won a T20 world cup match against the women cricket team of India. Underestimating the power of a woman would thus be a mistake.
Do you know: The mission statement of Medina i-e The City of the Prophet (PBUH) included the following point: 'We will establish a state in which a young maiden laden with jewelry and ornaments will travel alone from San'aa in Yemen to Busra in Syria (a distance of more than 1500 miles), yet, she will have no fear but the fear of Allah.' (Source: M-A-Jinnah)
This creature of Allah is tough yet delicate, stern yet polite, unruly yet sensitive that’s why it has been reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
And you are recommended to treat women with the best … and indeed you are advised to treat women with goodness.
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