Riding a bike in Pakistan is a no-no for women. A country where female drivers are criticized for daring to come out on roads, it requires extraordinary confidence for a woman to ride a bike on one of the busiest roads of Karachi: I.I Chundrigar road.
Just the other day, as I was chattering away with my friends in yet another rickshaw adventure at a noisy signal this was an unusual scene not just for me but for others as well. People gaped at her while she looked ahead confidently, waiting for the signal to turn green on her tree-wheeler.
Men would frown upon such a sight, declaring that she forgets her place by doing something that is solely reserved for men, at least in Pakistan. Avoiding bewildered or mocking stares and lewd jests is far from impossible. We need to question ourselves: what is so extraordinary about a woman riding a bike? Why are different vehicles reserved for different genders? A woman becoming a pilot is big news. Why? Because she is the ‘weaker’ sex and can’t be trusted with other people’s lives?
People say a woman’s place is her house and her highest honor is becoming a mother. So basically, we can trust the ‘weaker’ sex enough to raise the next generation but can’t trust her with bikes, cars and jets? Men call women weak and irresponsible without thinking that they themselves have been brought up by a woman who they depended upon for their life. The irony of our society’s attitude towards women is so huge I can’t even begin to comment on it.
Some might find my ranting about women rights over a small incident incomprehensible and irrelevant. But it is relevant! As a woman it angers me to see the way people frown at female drivers, often cursing them for getting in their way. They are treated like crap. Comments like kahan kahan se ajati hain, driving karni nahi ati, andhi ho kia are hurled so casually, it’s shocking. We live in a society that claims to be ‘respectful’ towards women, that claims that it treats women like ‘queens’. But coming across this sort of attitude, it seems that people here either live in a fool’s paradise or they are the biggest hypocrites alive. I’ll go with the latter.
An edited version was published here.
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