The fields of violence

HIDDEN February 26, 2023


It is said that life is not easy for women in Pakistan, especially for women in rural areas, and rightly so. They spend their lives bound by traditions that not only limit their opportunities for education but also for mobility. While many spend their lives between the confines of raising children and running errands in the house, there are some who dream of flying and breaking the bonds of society while living in the society and achieve anything, if not everything they dream of.

Aysha Baqir, the author of Beyond the fields founded the Kaarvan Craft Foundation, a non-profit economic development organization that empowers women in low-income communities. He is Development work in the villages of South Punjab became part of his inspiration to write the tragic story of twin sisters Sarah and Tara, living in rural Punjab in the 1980s.

Denied their rights by the conservative society they were born into, their status as women and their desire to use whatever talent they may have is controlled by men in the name of religion and culture. Women are expected to be good wives and obey the men chosen for them by their families.

This is the case with many women in the country and not only in rural areas. Women’s lives are governed by traditions that they must uphold even if it costs their lives. Men do not hesitate to kill their women in the family in the name of honor, if they deviate from the norm.

Born to a poor, landless farmer, the main character, Sara, and her twin sister, Tara, grow up among wheat and cotton in a rural village, where life is difficult. the landlord and his bandits are a constant threat. The country is under a strong military regime [Pakistan in the 1980s], with the Islamization of society in the process and the general environment being one of repression. With the harsh laws against women, there were protests in the cities. Life in the village also witnessed violence and there was an emphasis on obeying the rules of morality, the honor of the family is more than anything else.

Tara is the good young girl – obedient and gentle – but Sara is the opposite, strong, unwilling to accept limits, and questioning the status quo. Sara wants to explore, and wander around, questioning traditional customs such as marriage. With more things on his mind than marriage, he gets sad when he sees girls playing wedding games. “Can they think of anything else but marriage?” He does not rebel but he takes every opportunity to get what he sets his mind to. He knows where to stand. “My obedience is a product of my parents in the community. If I rebel, I will not honor them and the name of my family.”

As a 15 year old, she is forced to wear a burqa and is not allowed to play outside. She wants to study like her brother but girls in their village are not supposed to study. His brother teaches him at home with his mother, while supporting some of the strictest traditions, allowing him to study on the condition that no one knows, even the boy

When Sarah told a story about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing at a family gathering, “some heads nodded, while others shook their heads and grumbled in frustration. ‘And how does he know all these things?’… ‘My son, his brother, he tells him what he learns at school,’ said Mama quickly.

“‘And you allow it? That’s not smart. There is a reason why we do not send our girls to school. They’re starting to think for themselves and…’”

His mother warned: “Be in charge before your name is ruined. It is better to stop those thoughts in the beginning.”

Zara was not ready to accept limitations. He is not happy and is always ready to go out. One afternoon, the twins and their brother decided to play outside for a while, but as a result something else was in store. Tara is kidnapped from the land and forced. From here their lives change.

Against the backdrop of martial law and social unrest, the book shows the fear, sadness and hope of women. After Tara’s rape, their father wants to seek justice for his daughter and go to the police, but has to abandon the idea when he is advised not to because of the new law – the Hudood Ordinance – which requires the victim to prove the accusation. , the failure for which he can be blamed little and punished. Even her testimony is not enough because according to the law, the testimony of one woman is only half of the testimony of a man in court.

The boy is reminded that if the word spreads “he cannot raise his head. People will make up stories.” He has to think about his other children and he will not be able to marry his other daughter. “She can marry anyone now, but who wants to marry her when you talk.”

To avoid any trouble and the loss of the family’s honor, it is decided to send Tara to the city to work as a maid, however, when an unexpected marriage is accepted by the parents. It seems that the case is over, although the family is facing many questions from inquisitive and noisy women.

However, the nightmare resurfaces when a newspaper clip emerges, casting doubt on the legality of the marriage. Even now, the father is more concerned about the honor of the family than the safety and well-being of his daughter. “She was dragged and then forced to marry to protect their ‘honor’. This is what Amma and Abba did to him. Even now, he only thought about the family name and honor. What is family? What is the name?” Sarah thought.

The story of Tara’s husband upset Sarah and she decided to save him. He is ready to find his twin and is ready to face everything that comes his way. In the middle of confessing his intention to his brother, he moved to go to Lahore, ready to brave the unknown dangers of a city.

Will Sarah be able to save her beloved twin? Will he find the future he so desperately seeks? These are the questions that remain in the minds of the readers in the second half of the book.

While the book tells a heartbreaking story, it ends on a positive note if not for everyone but for some. The most interesting change is the character of Sarah’s mother. Although she supported Zara’s research, it seems that she is afraid of her husband and the inability to make decisions, but in the end she knows that she is a woman with an opinion.

The book reflects the strange ideas that our society holds, especially when it comes to women. It seems that there is no concept of divorce for a woman. For many “Once a girl gets married, only her dead body should leave her husband’s house.” After Samina (a character in the story) is brought home by her father from her abusive husband and it is clear that her marriage is over, Samina’s mother, Kulsoom chachi. [uncle’s wife]said “My daughter would rather die than divorce.”

Likewise, when Tara returns home, the neighbors come back to investigate, gossiping and asking questions.

“It was sent again?!”

“It’s a mother’s nightmare.”

“How do you sleep?”

“You are cursed.”

“Nothing is wrong with your daughter, I hope.”

“Is she fighting with her husband?”

Small details define society. For example, when Chiragh was raped and killed (another character, perhaps it was made to reflect on the society and use it as an example for other girls), the women of the village, except for a few people, refused under Bari Maasi rule. [an elderly woman of the village] ordered his body to be prepared for burial. He brought bad things to the family and was also dishonored. When Moulvi Saab started reading Chiragh’s funeral prayers, a mob gathered and threatened to burn the mosque. She ran away from home with a boy who promised to marry her but abandoned her. “When he came back, Chiragh’s family disowned him and left. Moulvi Saab tried to stop him from returning to the village but our Pir intervened and allowed him to return saying that if he had no family to protect him, he would be his protector . … “The people of the village will never forget or forgive. They prayed to God for mercy and forgiveness but no one was spared.”

The book mainly deals with the issue of rape and patriarchal norms in Pakistan, and touches on the barrier of lack of education, greed and brutality of the landlords in the villages. back, and how the townspeople take advantage of the ignorance of the villagers. At the same time it is a strong reminder of the terrible suppression of women’s rights by the Hudood Ordinance.

When Majjo phuppi (Zara’s father’s sister) brings a document with pictures of women accused in a protest, Sara is left to think about the new law that her aunt talked about. . The questions that pop into his mind: “What does this new law mean? Am I half my brother?” He wrote notes in his copy book about the events of Bhutto’s arrest and the passing of the Hudood Act, etc.

While reading Beyond the fields, readers get a taste of life in the village – women are busy all day with household chores such as washing, cooking and tending animals. There are still plenty of noisy neighbors and worried families; some are helpful while others, especially women, are just looking for sweet gossip. Any problem prompts a meeting of family and trusted friends for resolution.

Sarah and Tara may be fiction but the hard truths presented in the book are not. Although the book is set in the 1980s, the issues it deals with are rape, child sexual abuse and child abuse. The effects that come from keeping these topics taboo and not discussed are relevant today, as they are. it is clear from the reports of violence and murder in the newspapers that we read almost every day.

Rizwana Naqvi a freelance writer and tweets Alabi Newsnaqviriz; he can be found in [email protected]. All information and facts are the responsibility of the author


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