Lately, the word dystopia has been coming up more and more in popular culture. I attribute this to the current trends in media, such as the movie “The Hunger Games” coming out and other movies and literature where the world is just wrong. Morally, spiritually, in everyway possible, wrong. It is intriguing to me for one specific reason.
To clarify for myself, I looked up the meaning of dystopia – “An imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be” according to the definition on Bing.com. Clearly, the exact opposite meaning of utopia, or a place where everything is perfect (from the Greek ou-“no”, topos-“place, taken from definition of utopia on Bing.com).
So given these definitions, I am curious about the fascination with dytopian societies. When I read fiction, most of the time is to have an escape from my reality. While dystopian media is interesting, when I am looking to remind myself of how fabulous my life is or perhaps to convince myself that life could be worse, I don’t have to read dystopian literature. I read non-fiction, most specifically, the news. Before going any further with what I have to say, I will reveal to the universe that in my humble opinion, dystopian literature is more warning about the future than anything else. It has a valuable place in the world of art and humanity, generally speaking.
I read a story yesterday that has some personal connection with me in a way. A story about Pakistan, but which impacts specifically the women of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries in that region. I have linked this story of incredible horror and suffering here. A story of a woman who was attacked by her husband with acid. If you don’t want to read the story I don’t blame you. I didn’t want to read about it but felt compelled as a woman of Pakistani origin to not only read about it, but also to write about it.
I have mentioned that my heritage is Pakistani. Although I was born and raised in the United States, much of my identity was established as I struggled (and still continue to struggle with) having two very distinct, polar opposite cultures surrounding me. When I read stories like this, or when I hear about them when I have been to Pakistan, there are several emotions that well up inside of me.
First there is fury, that even in this day and age, women are treated so miserably. Although things have gotten much better in recent years, there still is so much to do to help the plight of women, not just in Pakistan, but really all over the world. There is no crime in being a woman.
Second comes shame and guilt. Shame that the culture that forms so much a part of me, remains silent and doesn’t rise up in horror when women are tortured and abused. I am a woman and while part of me rages and feels shame, there is always a tiny miniscule part of me, that wonders for a second about whether the woman deserved it. That part of me is utterly despicable. I hate it and I don’t know where it comes from. Then the guilt takes over. Guilt because I KNOW with my entire heart, that there is no crime in the world that deserves such punishment. Guilt because I know that little part of me is exactly that. A part of me. Shame Farheen. Shame.
Third, I feel lucky. Grateful that my parents took us away from a place that possibly would have taught me and my sister to hate ourselves for no crime but only because of our gender. A place where my brother could have easily have become a monster who disregarded females as something to be used and abused. Instead, he is a loving father to his two beautiful daughters (mA) and a considerate and caring husband (for the most part 🙂 ).
I give credit to both my parents but in actuality I feel my Father had a greater hand in the way we turned out. His family is of rougher stock than my Mother’s and is less educated. My Father left Pakistan because he used to see girls in Karachi, walking to school in their uniforms and thought that he wanted that for his daughters. His sisters were at the mercy of their husbands, their daughters denied the chance to go to school. He saw the abuses that happened to women personally and because he wanted something different for the future generations of Dogar girls, he made sure my siblings and I received whatever help we needed to become the people we are today. So yes, we are lucky, to have escaped to a certain extent.
In regard to this poor woman, I hope God gives her soul the peace she was denied on Earth. I hope that people who commit this sort of crime, not just in Pakistan but everywhere, are brought to justice. I also hope that people who are not living in dystopian situations realize that they are lucky and there are people who are suffering horrific things in reality, not just in fiction.
PS. I have not intended to put all Pakistani/ Muslim peeps into one category. I will be addressing the topic of women and Islam later to clarify some thoughts I have on those subjects. As in all places, there are good and bad people everywhere. However, the justice systems in some places work a little better than in others. If you have concerns or questions, feel free to email me and I will try and clarify my stance further.