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15th Monthly Study Circle

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 12:38
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BKTEF organizes 15th Monthly Study Circle for Baacha Khan Fellows


The Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation (BKTEF) organized 15th monthly study circle for Bacha Khan Fellows at the BKTEF head office on November 4. 2017. The study circle was attended by almost 55 participants belonging to different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Balochistan and Afghanistan. Fellows and young scholars from Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Charsadda, Swabi, Shangla, Hangu, Dir, Waziristan, Khyber Agency, Momand Agency, Tank, Kalla Saifullah, Ningarhar and Paktia participated in the study circle. The text selected for the study circle was Urdu book “Sex aur Samaj” by Saeed Ibrahim.


The book was elaborately discussed by the participants. The general situation of sex and gender in our society was discussed in detail by Sana Ijaz. Gulalai Ismail shed light on the back and forth journey of women's slavery and liberty during the evolution of human history. Daud Afridi discussed Love, a perspective to be understood as a reality or fiction.


The discussion was taken forward by the participants including Azmat Khan, Tariq Pukhtunyar, Muhammad Zadran, Shahnawaz, Imran Khan, Nadia, Mehnaz , Yelda, Kiran, Said Rasool Bettani, Abdullah Malik, Afsar Afghan, Talal Baidar and Isma who discussed the dynamics of sex and gender in the society in detail.


The participants were of the view that the term sex was associated with such vulgarity that it was impossible to bring it under discussion any more. Ms Sana Ijaz said that the term “sex” had been so badly stigmatized that even the basic needs of women shown on TV were considered grossly unethical.


Th participants were of the view that the curricula taught in schools glorified honour killing in textbooks. One of the examples of this glorification was a grade 10th Urdu text text “Sher Alam aur Memunai”. The participants said that women in media should be portrayed in a way so as to represent them respectable beings rather than objects for sex.


While discussing Love, the participants expressed that platonic love was usually glorified in our social relations. Platonic love refers to non-sensual love where the admirer finds it sinful to even think about his/her lover’s body. Daud Afridi said that it might be due to the squeezed space to explore love relations owing to which admirers found love a very complicated feeling. This, in his opinion, had created strains and stresses in relations among the particularly young men and women of the society.


Ms.Gulalai Ismail shed light on the old Arab, Mexican and African customs when women were free and allowed to choose partners of their choice. She said that it was the result of prohibition on basic instincts which led to frustration in the present society. This frustration was very much reflected in our theatres and documentaries which were made for awareness of the common masses.


One of the participants, Azmat, referred to Michael Foucault’s book “History of sexuality” whereby the author had linked sexuality with power. Azmat said that sex repression had strong association with guilt and self subjugation. Azmat emphasised the need that sex education should be compulsorily imparted in homes as well as schools since children were the direct victims of harassment. The issue of harassment was usually brushed under the carpet as it was the least discussed topic in our society.


Another participant, Imran Khan, referred to cognitive science and discussed the three discoveries made on human thinking i.e., human thinking was metaphorical, human thinking was 98% unconscious and that human thinking was embodied. He also said that sexual act was powerful because it was a human’s basic instinct and was essential for human survival and expression of love. Imran Khan stressed that rewiring was needed and the metaphors expressing women subjugation needed to be reconstructed.


Abdullah Malik was of the view that the author of the book held religion responsible for the present status of women but the atrocities inflicted on women during WWI and WWII was a clear evidence of the fact that religion had little role in a society’s treatment towards women.


The other participants including Nadia, Shahnawaz, Yelda, Kiran, Talal Baidar ,Mehnaz, Said Rasool Bettani, Abdul Malik, Afsar Afghan, Muhammad Zadran and Isma collectively agreed that such forums were needed to talk about subjects that were considered taboo and hence censored. They were of the view that debate on gender and sex was significant to widen space for dialogue on subjects which were considered in our society as unethical, immoral and vulgar but had strong impacts on the onward march and well being of the society.


The discussion was concluded by Dr.Khadim Hussain on the note that the evolutionary process had led to gender construct. He said that sex was biological and was related to human instincts. He referred to Eric Fromm's 'The Art of Love' in this regard. He further said that gender was a phenomenon that was directly associated with masculinity and power. Power which led to the control of resources of a society in which a particular class or gender was targeted or a particular nation was subjugated. He said that this inherent relation between power and gender was consciously or unconsciously ignored by Saeed Ibrahim in his book 'Sex Aur Samaj'. He said that Rubina Saigol in her paper, ' Feminist Movement and Women Development in Pakistan' had dilated on the subject in great detail.


He said that there had been a number of Pashtun movements which worked for gender deconstruction. Bayazid Ansari’s Roshanite movement and Baacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgar movement redefined Pashtunwali, broke patriarchy from the roots and reconstructed the shaming culture entirely. The neo-liberal approach prevalent today had brought about change in the apparent role of gender in degree not in nature. He also pointed out that the shaming culture came into being with the alliance of religious elite and the State elite.


Dr Khadim Hussain maintained that the interpretations of the religious texts presented by different scholars was responsible for assigning gender roles rather than the faith itself. He gave the example of substantial differences between Ashraf Ali Thanvi’s interpretations regarding sex and gender and that of Javed Ghamidi's. He said that it was impossible for Pashtun nation to move forwards without women participation that made half of the nation's strength. He maintained that the forced segregation between both genders led to sexual frustration which caused structural violence in the society.


Dr.Khadim Hussain,however, had reservations regarding the segregative approach of the struggle for emancipation of different ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or socioeconomic groups. He was of the view that no movement for emancipation could succeed while working separately. He said that a close networking among all classes, genders and groups of a society was needed to achieve collective, national, religious and sexual freedoms.


He stated that since gender was associated with power, it must be challenged and deconstructed with power itself. We need to collectively deconstruct the discourse, introduce an alternative discourse and continue to participate in discussions to widen space for dialogue on subjects that are generally considered taboos. He stated that we needed to fulfil our individual and collective responsibilities through strong associations and networks if we wanted to challenge the gender construct and find an alternative discourse.


The administrative, documentation and reporting responsibilities for the 15th monthly Study Circle were carried out by Rashid Jan, Gohar Nangyal, Adnan, Ali Hussain, Natasha and Imran Khan.


The 16th study circle was decided to be held on December 2, 2017. The text decided for the next study circle was ' Da Pir Rokhan Na tar Baacha Khan' written by Ali Khan Mehsud.


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