The Dignity of Baloch women under great threat: Aslam Shah
The word “Baloch” has been defined variously and diverse elucidations have been mentioned regarding the origin of the term applied to a particular group of ethnic group. Herzefield (1968) believed that it is derived from Brza-Vaciya which means “a loud cry”. Rawlinson (1873) maintained that Baloch owes their name to Babylonian which means “a cockscomb”. Dames (1904) believed that the word “Baloch” means “crest”. Jan Mohammad (1982) believes that Baloch is derived from two Sanskrit words “Bal” which means strength or power and “Och” means high or magnificent. The word Baloch, therefore, means very powerful and magnificent.
Moreover, the cultural values which are the pillars of the Baloch individual and national identity were firmly established during the twelfth and sixteenth century. Baloch society is governed by very distinguished sets of conventions and systems of laws. These conventions regulate marriage, inheritance, religious observance, dispute resolution, decision making, duties and rights of individuals and the community as a whole.
In addition, Baloch have always been different from the rest of the nations in the whole globe in many sorts and in terms of culture and traditions. For instance:
1. Being out of control is shameful and not part of Baloch standard and to act without restraint is to degrade one’s standing among the people. It is traditional not to let others observe your sadness and vulnerability, dignity, pride, patience, endurance and a deep sense of shame are the guiding principles in the life of a Baloch. “It is better to die than to be ashamed,” is frequently quoted in general conversation.
2. The concept of shame and honour as sanction on behaviour incorporates male virility, female fertility, hospitability, generosity and keeping the Baloch moral standards during family relationship and disputes with others. However, involvement in extramarital sexual relationship is an unforgivable offence among the Baloch and honour is not only simply related to the social standing of individuals men, but also to the family they belong to. The honour of a family is interminably linked to the reputation of the women and their reputation in turn, is sealed by the public display of shame.
The principles of shame and honour act as bonds that tied a Baloch to his family, community and to his or her broader ethnic group as an honourable Baloch.
3. Truthfulness, honesty, generosity, hospitability, justice, intolerance and to any kind of supremacy revenge and (Lajj-o- Mayar) are the basic ingredients of Baloch social conduct and keeping one’s words is another cultural code of the Baloch that comes under the broader meaning of observing by Baloch.
STATUS OF BALOCH WOMEN IN BALOCH SOCIETY :
The woman was always taken into confidence in a time of grave emergencies. While organizing war, their counsels were also taken into consideration because they had to take part in the war efforts and fulfil their certain obligations. They generally did not take part in the battles alongside men, but the tribal wars were almost total in their character: and every person had to participate if required, in the battle women, however, usually provided medical and civil assistance to the wounded.
In spite of the fact that the women were active participants in the war efforts, they were always spared. The Baloch women, after a victory in an intertribal war, were never shunned enslaved and if women intervened in the battle, the war was stopped and negotiations were offered for settlement of the dispute. The killing of a woman, however, was considered an act of cowardice and it was a matter of honour that the women privately held a great degree of power whereas, women’s social status was strongly contingent upon being married, faithful and bearing children.
Nevertheless, a woman was expected to be extremely faithful, punishment for unfaithfulness was not less than death. The faithfulness of a wife was of prime importance. After committing adultery if the women managed to escape instant punishment and reached the house of a Sardar or any elders she was saved.
Moreover, the Baloch was very much cautious in selecting his wife because only a noble, respectable and bounteous lady could bear glorious sons. The Baloch lady had the responsibility to teach her sons the principles of their great forefathers and bring him up as a brave and enterprising youth. The mother was perhaps the most important tutor to her son and daughter, especially on matter of the traditional values and morality.
THE ROLE OF BALOCH WOMEN IN THE SOCIETY :
The history witnesses that there have been many Baloch women who happened to take part in Baloch political history, arts and crafts and literature. Some of the following are mentioned below:
• Bibi Maryam gave audiences to the Sardars and had political discussions. She also accompanied the Khan during the battles.
• Bibi Ganjaan gave political advice to the Khan and took part in the administration and decision making
• Banadi took part in the battle of Panipat and fought with sheer courage with the Shah of Delhi and invaded Delhi.
• Mai Beebu was killed in the fifteenth battle against the Barozais of Sibi.
• Gohar Maheen showed great acumen by not telling Mir Chakar the fact regarding the killing of her camels .
• Banok Seemok was wife of Nathe. According to the people, Seemok had great devotion in the struggle to the Balochi literature but soon after the murder of her husband Nathe came to an end and she became mentally retarded.
• Pari Askani is well-known for her poetries in spite of being illiterate and grown into an elite family who had no interest in this regard.
• Banul Dahstiyari is known as one of the most influential and greatest columnists in the history of Baloch society and an expert linguist in three major languages of South Asia. The languages are Balochi, Sindhi and Persian.
THE CONDITIONS OF THE BALOCH WOMEN TODAY :
It is a ground breaking reality that since the fall of the Baloch state, women have always been degraded and devalued by the people of elite classes. They have always been deprived of their fundamental freedom of speech and thoughts. They have always been in chains everywhere. Not a long ago in Quetta an ugly and seemingly premeditated and vehement abduction of innocent Baloch female students by the police force exclusively elucidates the defloration of Baloch students’ struggle regarding the unavailability of internet facilities in the downtrodden areas of Balochistan.
The girls, however, were protesting peacefully against the online classes near the Quetta press club on 24th of June, 2020, and shortly after 20 to 30 minutes a van full of police arrived with lady constables who, with guise and coquetry manners, dragged, pushed and pulled the girls towards the van while the sign and identity of Baloch’s honour and dignity the (scarves) were fallen on the road due to the forceful dragging by lady constables. The male constables were also there during the incident; they also humiliated and insulted by using biased and chaotic words with boisterous yells. This very unbearable and un-tolerated act by the so-called police precisley elaborates the utilization of nominalism and rationalism with pretension and inducements to the innocent proletariat and bourgeoisie people.
Moreover, this is not the only incident which has inflicted the doomed honour and dignity of Baloch resulted by the derogatory and contemptible rogues. There are many more such incidents that been horrific and of wit learning for the Baloch nation. About one month ago, four people had jumped in the house of Maliknaz, a resident of Dannok at around 3:00 AM with heavy weapons, for the purpose of theft. Maliknaz, a great and brave lady, resisted and didn’t let them to rob anything. The thief had become astonished that the lady was going to snatch the gun from him and he murdered her on the spot and left her 5 years old baby orphan.
In the same month three more robbers had jumped in the house of Kulsoom Baloch in Tump. The robbers had slaughtered her neck by a knife and had taken the gold from her ears and a mini amount of cash from the drawer that she had amassed by sewing clothes and her three children were left orphan.
Furthermore, this journey is not finished from there: recently, a sister of a disappeared brother had committed suicide when she was being mocked and stared negatively by the people in the streets whenever she struggled for the safe recovery of her brother. There are many more such females who are under cryptic agony and pains due to such biased and unreasonable actions of the un-conscious masses. The females of disappeared and abducted men, women and children are always insulted and humiliated on the roads by the police and some other multifarious sources in many hazardous ways.
Three months before, a group of females were taken into custody by the police in Karachi and they were forcefully told to accept that they were a part of insurgents, and threatened that they would indulge them in such cases so that they could never come out of them. The females, nevertheless, did not acknowledge what the forces told them to do and they were punished and tortured in return. After four days of remand, they were left free. What do the police want to explain by doing such heinous and un-Islamic acts? It should always be noted in the history of the Baloch that they have never been in such situations as they are today. Gone are the days when there were a Banadi who fought with an army of three hundred soldiers with the Shah of Delhi; there were a Chakar Khan Rind who fought with his own companions for thirty years just because a young rind had killed the camels of a female in his surroundings; there were a Shay Mureed who had lent his fiancé to someone just because he had taken oath; there were a Balach who fought blindly just because he had promised to his mother that he would do or die but take revenge of his brothers from the British soldiers; there were a Bebagar who put spice and chilli in his eyes whenever he saw a girl with bad eyes and intention. Gone are the geese when the honour of the Baloch was washed with blood and unless it had not come to an end, it would last for two hundred more years.
Ironically, the Baloch masses must now have to study harder and harder to judge who their enemies are; whether inside or outside their own homes. It is the right moment to become resistant because the situations have made us that much compel that without resistance we are left with no other alternative in defending our dignity and honour.
In fine, the mass media has a critical role to play here, in sending out the message that no matter how powerful the provocation, taking the law into your hands is not justifiable under any circumstances, and, in addition, now is the time for the parliament to initiate heated debate on this issue.
The writer is an author, a short story writer, screenplay writer and an article writer.