Islamic Perspectives

Will Our Society Ever Retrace Its Position Towards Gender Justice?

'And come not near to unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a faahishah (a great sin) and an evil way.' (Quran: Sura Al-Israa, Verse 32)

Delhi High Court has absolved Mahmood Farooqui, co-director of Peepli Live, of rape charges. One of the notable reasons for the acquittal includes the High Court’s observation that “Feeble no may mean yes”. My discussion is in no way directed at the observations of the High Court and its rulings in this case. My discussion converges on the skewed perception of gender equality and regressing moral values, which were never accepted a few years ago, but have now been solemnized to the extent of defacing our social system in its entirety.

Let’s focus on the most critical argument of this case, which is consent and consensual relationships [“Sexual consent would be the key factor in defining sexual assault,” the court recorded.] How do we identify – and more importantly, prove to others (the Judiciary in particular) – about a physical relationship being consensual? Specifically when the incident happens on March 28, 2015 but the FIR is lodged not before June 19, 2015? Therefore, the Court’s observation that there were doubts about the consent of this physical relationship stands ratified.

Every illicit extramarital relationship, consensual or otherwise, is appallingly detrimental to the feminine modesty. And it’s not restricted to just that; it goes farther to strangulate the very conviction of our social fabric. That is, if we Indians still believe in the principal societal fabric called family; although we may have diluted and purged many other social convictions that had stood to define our identity a few decades back. The question that we must seek to answer is this – when and how did our priority of determining the damage caused by an inappropriate physical relationship shift from outraging of feminine modesty to consent of the parties involved? And even before this, when, why, and how did our societal fabric start discarding the “inappropriateness” of such relationships? To cut it short, when did our society start accepting “consensual” extramarital, illicit relationships (nonconsensual ones are anyways convulsively deplored as rape!)?

To resonate on this leitmotif, we need to trace back certain steps of the history of our social setup. In historical times, the Indian social setup was essentially patriarchal, like many other societal frameworks – it stays much the same even today. During the Pre-Independence era, subservient colonialism and monetary imperialism was the tool used to plunder Third-World countries like India. However, when the world stage started transmuting at the beginning of World War I, the Satanic West realized that it would no longer be able to pursue subservient colonialism by conquest. They then came up with an alternative – cultural imperialism.

The slogan of “Gender Equality” became a foreboding apparatus for this onslaught of cultural imperialism. The patriarchal Indian social setup reassured a vicious acceptance of this “Gender Equality” slogan. The upshot of this vicious acceptance was an accelerated evasive fissure of our moral values; to the extent that the society soon started espousing anything and everything that emanated from the West in the guise of “Gender Equality”. Subsequently, consensual illicit extramarital relationships (which are a norm in the West) garnered rabid (should I say fanatical?) acceptance specifically among the metropolitan youth. It was also seen as an antidote, an exodus to beat the hitherto patriarchal social setup. Without realizing that the West that generally claims to teach gender equality to the world is the same Satanic West that has discounted many a female rights. The United States, celebrated as the champion of gender equality, is still waiting to see a female President! It has also recorded the highest number of rape cases [shall we say nonconsensual illicit extramarital relationships?] in the world a few years ago.

Let’s take a break – and accept some trenchant scathing facts – this ambiguous concept and perception of gender equality is not taking us anywhere. In bellowing for gender equality, are we really doing justice to the genders, expressly the feminine gender? Is gender “equality” and “mutual consent for an illicit relationship” the solution to the social discord that we seek to wrestle off?

Our social discord is patriarchy, and the injustice that it begets to the feminine gender. Our social discord is the repugnant penchant towards the male gender and the denial of their rights to the female gender. Our social discord is our willingness to placidly ignore the bruises we cause to the feminine gender in the name of “ancestral culture”. Our social discord is celebrating gender equality by reducing the feminine gender to a mere carnal mannequin and bellowing down modesty as regressive and backward. Our social discord is ignoring the fact that we do not even wish to give the feminine gender the right to be born and live. Look what we have done – we have slayed more than 10 million female fetuses since 1990s, and are losing 500,000 girls annually due to female feticide.

No equality can solve this discord; because equality is a misnomer that has never existed and that can never be endured by either of the two genders. Equality does not warrant feminine rights in a society stewed with male chauvinism; justice does. However, justice is not in giving the females the freedom to wear outrageous skimpy outfits and then regressing them to carnal mannequins in cinemas, theaters, hoardings, and billboard; justice is in preserving their modesty and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Justice is not in giving them the freedom to work under the garb of women’s emancipation and then furtively enslaving them for equal participation in breadwinning; justice is in allowing them the choice to spend their remunerations as per their wish. Justice is not in giving them an infinitesimal three-month maternity leave and then stripping off an infant of its weaning rights; justice is in aiding them, financially and otherwise, to ensure apposite upbringing of their children [as was done by Omar, the second Caliph of Islam]. Justice is not in giving them the freedom to indulge in consensual illicit relationships and then mortifying them as corporate concubines; justice is in acknowledging and accepting them in the society by strengthening familial relationships and encouraging widow and divorcee remarriages.

What we need is not “Gender Equality” but “Gender Justice”. The issue; therefore, that remains to be addressed is – will our society acknowledge the deceit of “Gender Equality” and replenish our fractured social setup with “Gender Justice”?

Sharjeel Ahmad is MBA and an Economics graduate. He is an instructional designer by profession and is presently based in Saudi Arabia. He has keen interest in social, economic, and political issues facing Indian populace, with special emphasis on minority issues.