Whether you call it Islamization, Talibanization, or sheer male dictatorship but the news is out: the head of the University of Malakand NWFP, has decided to ensure that female students observe veiling themselves, while they remain on campus, for ‘promoting’ Islamic values. The decision was shared with journalists, according to a news item in Pakistan’s esteemed English daily Dawn (January the 1st, 2009) by Dr. Mohammad Rasool Jan, Vice Chancellor of the University. While the unpleasant surprise has opened the gate to the pen of unreason, the claim that the decision has been taken without any pressure has created an air of doubt about the status quo prevailing in our government educational institutions of higher learning.
The euphemism of ‘observing purdah (veil)’ has served its latent function of lessening the impact of the would-be imposition on female students to veil themselves, according to the Islamic standards of decency, in the University of Malakand. True, that lately fundamentalism and religious fanaticism have paralyzed the web of social and community living, drenching the life of a layman in fear and anxiety; scapegoating women in the name of Islam seems to have become the norm rather than exception with the fundamentalist militants of our (?) society.
Yet, the government has been resisting, rather than speaking, the dictatorial word of these oppressors who want to rule by the sword (in our times, by the gun). Whenever the government fails to subdue the terrorists immediately in an area, it should (and appreciably does) acknowledge the fact and continue resisting while admitting the pressure of the aggressors. But this latest shock of Dr. Jan’s decision smells of something fishy as the decision is said to have been taken under no pressure (you can imagine the VC smiling over a cup of tea while inking down the thing down). What does it mean? A number of things!
Most alarmingly, it may be the personal preference of Dr. Jan to introduce a rule that violates basic human rights, particularly women rights. Had there been left some choice between wearing and not wearing a veil, the decision would have come inoffensive; but sadly, the rule seems to be going to imposed, categorically (and the category being ‘female) – meant for all.
However, a high officer of a big government university hardly has the right to impose self-made rules without getting a general consensus on any issues of import. Since no poll has been conducted to get the view of standards, or anyone at all, veiling female students sounds no more than patriarchal oppression. Doing so in the name of Islam makes it worse and calls for intervention. Alas! Here our thought is fettered by the same vital question: ‘call for whose intervention? If the news sources got the breath of Dr. Jan’s decision, the government is not ignorant of it; and if it the government already knows everything, how come it allows such a ‘verdict’?
The preposterous nature of veiling women by making it a rule is so obtrusively manifest that even discussing the matter feels a nauseating repetition. Are veils enough to quell sexual instincts (in this case, male instincts)? May be we can think of a more effective way: castrating all males in order to prevent any sexual offense at all. After all, the male sexuality is the threat in question. And also, teachers in our universities are mostly men and their good characters are not at all guaranteed!
How about burying female children alive soon after they are born, just like the pagan Arabs are often accused of doing. It will eradicate the problem right from its root. But will the problem really end even then? Men can always turn to homosexual pleasures, can’t they? So let’s settle it this way: Don’t waste so much cloth in veiling Eve; instead, castrate all men and kill all women soon as they are born. No problem of indecency, big day for fundamentalists, and the ultimate shame for humanity!