Heinrick Boll Stiftung, The Green Political Foundation
Due to the offensive by the military only a few weeks ago, Pakistan came into the focus of the international public again. The power of the Taliban in connection with the attitude of the society was widely discussed, but once again gender and women issues were not highlighted. Durre Ahmed, chairperson and senior research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Gender and Culture in Lahore, about the current situation and development of the gender discourse in Pakistan.
In the current debate especially one phenomenon referred to as ‘radicalization’ or ‘Talibanization’ of society was often mentioned. What is the effect of this seemingly growing radicalisation of society on gender issues? What effect does it have on people’s psyche?
Durre Ahmed: As expected the effect is extremely negative. Where radicalisation is violent and obvious, the suppression of women is similarly violent and obvious. By its very nature, radicalisation is what I call a “hyper-masculinised” worldview of which religion is an important aspect. It has come into people’s psyches – of both male and female – through different mechanisms. At one hand, it expresses itself in rejection of women and of women’s bodies particularly. At another level, radicalisation understood as a mindset traps men in a vicious, arrested state of adolescent machismo.
But the gender discourse in Pakistan isn’t talking about any of these things. It remains stuck in a very narrow understanding of Islam and it selectively picks up ideas – which are there in all religions – to then suppress women. This is something, which I have been discussing and writing about for 15 years. I talk about it in Pakistan but because the gender debate is absent, there is only a small audience. However my work is trying to generate and create this discourse, trying to explain what is patriarchy, what is religion and how should it be understood psychologically.
Full interview can be found at http://www.boell.de/navigation/asia-8072.html