By Wajiha Waseem
She would read his books when no one was looking because who knew how they would punish her if they did know. Entranced by the words as if under a spell, she would devour the books like a hungry person eating after ages. Still, she would feel ravenous and yearning for more. Growing up in a conservative family in Sindh, it was difficult for Zainab to attend school. She longed to step outside of the four-walled structure made of mud which she called her home. Being a witty person since the beginning, Zainab always dreamed of going to school, but it was her father who thought otherwise. She was expected to cook and clean after her brother and father and to help her mother, not to study. Her brother, on the other hand, was showered with every possible thing he could think of. Even with the financial condition of the family being poor, their father would spend lavishly to give his son the best of everything. Zainab would watch, every day, with a broken heart, her brother goes to school. She craved for knowledge, and when she could bear no more, she would quietly take her brother’s books and read at night. She almost got caught once, when she was frightened by her father in the middle of the night, but she hid the book and lied about getting water. And this went on, Zainab would read at night, taking in every word, always hungry for more. This small act of rebellion is what made her a rebel. Zainab thought it was finally the time to stand up for herself.
She confronted her father, but the conversation went terribly wrong. Zainab was beaten by him till she was black and blue, but Zainab had had enough. She decided to run away. It is still not known where she went or who she went to but the girls in the village still remember her as the rebel, the one who stood up for herself and fought for her rights. Education for girls in the rural areas of Pakistan has always been a controversial topic. Women and girls are expected to look after the house and the men are expected to be the breadwinners of the family. The literacy rate in the rural areas is much less as compared to the urban areas and women are still facing the brutality of men due to the sexist beliefs and misinterpretation of religion.
Therefore, rural women still face patriarchy and justice is nowhere to be found. It is still an issue in Pakistan which has not been solved due to the conservative and superstitious beliefs of the illiterate. Women who stand up for their rights are punished brutally and the hope for a better future for them is vanishing. The parents who are willing and open-minded to idea of educating their daughter do not have enough resources to do so and many rural areas do not even have schools .We, as Pakistanis, should take steps for the betterment of education in the rural areas of Pakistan, not only for girls but for boys too since only education can make the future of Pakistan a bright one.