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My Feudal Lord: A Devastating Indictment of Women's Role in Muslim Society Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1996
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"'An extraordinary story'" * The Sunday Times * "'Riveting...one of the many remarkable qualities of Durrani's story is her total frankness...she emerges as a woman to be admired'" * The Age, Melbourne *
About the Author
A member of one of Pakistani's most influential families, Tehmina Durrani decided to write this book about they way women are treated in Pakistan after leaving her husband Mustafa Khar. In the writing of My Feudal Lord, Tehmina Durrani worked with William Hoffer, author of Midnight Express and co-author of Betty Mahmoody's Not Without My Daughter.
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In my view, the best way to combat against this violence is for the battered to take stand and for the society to support him or her. Society as a whole resents such violence. Another important thing we need to do is educate ourselves more about the needs and desires of our partners in the family context. Only through good understanding can we eliminate this immoral behavior.
The second issue I would like to touch upon is how women are treated in Pakistan. This behavior has its roots in history. There was a time when society considered the birth of a girl a crime by her mother. The signs of this treatment are felt in an Eastern expression, "You are a true father only when you have a daughter." Instead of considering her a blessing from God just like boys, she is considered a burden the father has to carry for the rest of his life, even after she is married.
If a girl is born in poverty, she is destined to become a servant one day, that of her mother or her husband. In educated households, girls are better off but never considered equal to boys. Therefore, the treatment they receive is often unfair: they rarely have the same opportunities when it comes to education, employment or marriage.
In the rural areas of Pakistan, where the feudal system still prevails, this situation is ten times worse. Even educated feudal lords do not allow education to enter the flourishing minds of their daughters for fear of rebellion, or the nourishment of new, threatening ideas. They are not allowed to express their feelings or leave the walls of their homes. As a result, they rarely develop complete personalities or individual identities. The lords treat village women with contempt. They are taught ! about male dominance from their birth. They are not to leave the side of their husband except when he is in a coffin. Even then, widows are not respected by the society.
Contrary to the popular belief, another type of feudal lord exists. He is an honest, caring and loving man. His family is respected for its dignity, not its fear. He hold liberal views, therefore he tries to provide equal opportunities to all his people. This is the model other lords should adopt. Sadly, he is on the list of endangered species. If only other lords would realize that people in villages are educated now. They respect when respected. They would make a very positive impact on the culture if they changed for the good. The common man's `izaat (respect)' would be safe and he would be happy to serve his so-called masters. The oppressors must remember that this domination will not last forever. Rebellion is second nature to the oppressed. Although might crush it, it is contagious.
My advice would be to educate our people not only in the dealings of the world, but that of our great religion Islam too. Islam talks in great detail about how we should treat women with utmost respect. We must learn from our past experiences as well as Islam so that we can improve ourselves.
The book "My Feudal Lord" is a milestone for the cause of women in Pakistan. It should be recognized as a stepping stone for building a better society for women, who are our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. If these women practice patience, this should not lead to their exploitation. To quote Asma Jhangir form the Forward of the book, "Freedom of expression is guaranteed by law to all - yet traditions and customs conspire to silence them (iii)."