Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

Postcolonial Feminism and Pakistani Fiction

Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

Postcolonial Feminism and Pakistani Fiction

Article excerpt

Introduction

Pakistani women have to struggle against their double colonization because of the particular politico-religious system which is hidden but working very actively behind the social system of Pakistan. It is very important to know that freedom from oppressive social system is not easy for the women of Pakistan even if they have achieved a certain level of education and economic independence. Firstly, because the destiny of women in Pakistan is embroiled with the religious and political ideology of Pakistan and secondly, the ideology of legal equality of women is crushed mostly by the dictators, which makes the women struggle against this politico-religious system in Pakistan made and developed by the dictators in the name of Islam. Whenever and whoever tried to legalize his illegal rule in Pakistan in the name of Islamization of the society, women were first to be victimized because of the laws like Hadood ordinance and Zina generated out of this politico-religious system. These and many other laws of this system proved detrimental for progress of women and curtailed their freedom and independence. The struggle of women in Pakistan is also the struggle against the dictatorial tendencies of the social setup. For example, Fatima Jinnah had to struggle against the dictatorial regime of Ayoob Khan in the 1960s and Benazir Bhutto against the regime of Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. We need to see how Pakistani fiction represents issues of women in the context of the struggle of women against the politico-religious system of Pakistan. Feminism is one of the themes employed by the writers of Pakistani fiction. It is mistakenly believed that the 'feminist' movement gained a new momentum in Pakistani English fiction under the political influence of the West. It is, in many ways, a continuation of the long standing feminist movement in Urdu.

Feminism in Indo-Pak Subcontinent Literature

At the advent of British colonialism, the feminist trends of English literature influenced the indigenous literature and changed it from its traditional pattern and structure by complicating the representation of the issues of women. But feminism in the Indian subcontinent, during the pre-colonial and colonial era, has been different because of the specific social structure and specific role of women as compared with the feminism in the west. "The social and educational reform movement in the Indo-Pak subcontinent further changed it into a different form of feminism, resulting mostly because of the nationalist movement" (Perron 2007). Loomba (1998) also supports this point of view when she says that the major working forces behind this difference are the socio-cultural differences in Indo-Pak subcontinent, which differentiate feminism in the Indian subcontinent from the Western feminism. It was largely a reaction against the hegemonic cultural denominators of the British imperialism in India. "In fact, Anti-colonial or feminist struggle(s) emphasized culture as a site of conflict between the oppressors and the op-pressed" (Loomba 1998). The same holds good for the feminist trends in the colonized states like India and Pakistan.

Also, because western feminism is determined on the basis of the idea that an individual is bom free and can determine his or her identity as an individual only, while in the Indo-Pak subcontinent the individual becomes a part of the whole as soon as she is bom. Therefore, the scholars, like Perron (2007), in this area, tend to define feminism in terms of time and space they work in. They think that women in Indo-Pak subcontinent have to go through many of the social constructs like status, relations with family, marriage, dowry, caste, community etc. Not only this, women also became a part of the political process, especially because of British colonization of India. One best example is the participation of women in the political process especially after the 1920s because of movements of nationalism resulting in the establishment of women organizations such as All India Women's Conference (AIWC)1 and the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW)". …

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