Women empowerment: responsible for breakdown family system – Shahidul Islam
Family is a cultural heritage in Bangladesh. It is a universal social institution and inseparable human organization in society. Women play a key role in the organization in terms of management and the source of inspiration for the advancement of a family including family members. She endeavors to create a strong relationship and bonding with family members. At the same time, they play an enabling role as manager, administrator, teacher, leader, housewife, and mother. Social norms, cultural values, religious knowledge, social behaviors, morality, socialization, the rules and regulations prevailing in the society are thought to the children by a mother in a family.
But, it is a sorrowful matter that at present family as an institution is at risk and dangerous position not only in urban areas but also in rural areas in Bangladesh. Either extended families or nuclear families are vulnerable. The extended family which was available in rural areas established on the agricultural-based economy is turning into a nuclear family. And Nuclear family which was the prevalence in urban areas influenced by industrialization and urbanization is breaking down. What is the behind reasons for the fragmentation of family? The answer is the effect of western culture. In western society, the family system whether the extended or nuclear family has become a myth. Instead, the single-parent family is increasingly becoming popular. Single parent family denotes a person who lives with a child or children and doesn’t have a wife, husband or live- in a partner.
This worst western culture is being promoted by Feminist scholars. For this, they advocate for the participation of women in mainstream economic activities with men. Feminism has also been wide-accepted in the last few decades. For instance, the female labor force has been increased to a great extent in every country including Bangladesh. Feminists ponder that gender roles and division of labor between males and females are socially constructed by patriarchy. So they challenge patriarchal social norms. Furthermore, they inspire women to compete with men in every sector. Moreover, they raise their voices in favor of women’s equal rights, freedom of choices and freedom of the individual. It is supposed to be a part of women’s empowerment. Alongside this, they strongly oppose being involved in the women in domestic chores as these works regard unpaid and unrecorded in the GDP.
The above statements express utterly a sinister conspiracy of western think tank against Muslim family culture. Their so-called freedom and women empowerment are pushed to extramarital relationship. Feminists are determined to the eroding sanctity of the institution of marriage as well as the fragmentation of family and familial relationships. There is no denying fact that the household works are fundamental. But feminists underestimate these tasks and overestimate outside works. It is necessary that, like outdoor jobs, indoor tasks must be recognized and recorded in the GDP. Sadly, through the movement of feminism, women have been turned into a constantan of man. It begets personality clash and marital conflicts between husband and wife which is also the prime reason for family breakdown. On the other hand, according to Islamic rules, women are considered as a comrade or partner of males.
The Prothom Alo published a report about the divorce rate in 2018. The report states that the divorce rate application has increased by a massive 34% throughout the country in the last year according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. In addition to the report, a divorce takes place every hour in Dhaka. At least 50000 divorce applications were filed in both Dhaka city corporations in the past six years. In Chittagong City Corporation, 2532 divorce applications were filed from January to July in 2017. The above-mentioned statistics show the extensive rate of family breakage. Among divorce applications, the majority of applications were filed by women.
The finding of the report reveals that women’s empowerment is the crucial factor of increased divorce. Women are initiating and seeking a divorce in order to free from the interference of the family members in making choices and implementing their decision roles. Economically independent women are a reluctance to remain in an unhappy marriage where the husband is always suspicious of the wife, or physically or mentally torturing for dowry although females in rural areas abstain from separation due to social stigma. The misinterpretation pertaining to the right of women has a big role in raising the number of divorces. Other reasons cited by men that are responsible for family breakage are facebook addiction, suspicious nature between them, extramarital relations, personality clash, the wife not leading a life according to Islamic rules, disobeying their husband, bad temper, indifference toward family, etc.
In Islam, the family is a holy institution that needs to be protected. In that case, women are pivotal concerning protecting the family. So, Islamic scriptures prescribe women to stay home intended to perform household work and domestic chores. The Almighty Allah says, “Stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance” (Al-Quran, 33:33). When our Prophet (peace be upon him) married her daughter Fatima with Hazrat Ali, he assigned the tasks in the home to Fatima and outside the home to Ali. It is noteworthy that Islam permits women to join the workforce if the women are needy and the job is suited to the nature of women. There should have separate places for men and women including special security for women. Finally, women have to wear hijab and travel to the workplace with Mahram.
It should be known that the separation of parents is unexpected for all members of the family, especially for children. It has a greater impact on children. Their physical and mental growth is not constructed properly according to their age. Psychological experts state that their feelings and emotion could be perverted or exceptional because of deprivation from the basic behavioral learning institution (family). In the adolescent period, the children are more likely to participate in a wide variety of crimes. Research findings show that the children who have experienced the dissolution of parents could lose faith in marriage. Besides, less participation in social activity and suffering from depression are noticeable within the children. Similarly, the inexistence of family influences the elderly people. In the end phase of life, they have to reside in old homes where they feel, loneliness, insecure, lack of joyous and care. Also, they suffer from depression, stress, and mental pressure. Thus, for removing above mentioned all inconveniences of both children and elderly people, the family is of the utmost significance. It ensures the wellbeing of them.
Generally, modern experts come up with sustainable development before taking any steps in every sphere of life, but the thoughts regarding a family are supposed to be unsustainable. Cause, they emphasize the extensive inclusion of females in the workforce instead of domestic chores. It is true that when women would be engaged in the labor force, they will hardly have a concentration on accomplishing family responsibility. It can be elucidated the term “opportunity cost”. After doing the day-long office, women usually get exhausted at the end of the day. Therefore, it is not plausible to continue office and family responsibility together.
In case of economic responsibility of the family, Islam does not bestow such responsibility on the female for very specific reason; at the same Islam permits outdoor works like jobs, business subject to some conditions i.e. ensure the environment to maintain veil/hijab and so on. At the same time Islam does not specify that women’s responsibility is only to do indoor activities of the family like cooking, keeping the household clean, washing clothes, etc. Since Islam considers the family as an institution, it separate the family works as per the nature of the family member i.e. husband and wife. Islam does not say that outdoor works like income for the family is more important than indoor works. Both are important in the eye of Islam to maintain the family life. Islam specifies the outdoor works for male in indoor works for female based on nature in order to make a family where every family member will be born safely. If both husband and wife do outdoor works it hampers the eco-system of the family life. In this regard, family responsibility refers to teach the children, take care of offspring dully, and perform household works such as cooking, keeping the household clean, washing clothes, etc, gossip with family members, and accomplishing other family matters that are mostly accomplished by women. She creates necessary environment in a family for uplifting the family members. She is the symbol of purity, faithfulness and devotion to her husband. She grows her children with love and affection. She provides moral education to them so that they can be a good citizen in a country and a good man in a society. In that case, a quotation from Napoleon can be remembered, “Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilized, educated nation.” On the contrary, feminism urges to increased inclusion of female in labor force. It is detrimental to building civilized or educated nation. Hence, it should be acknowledged that, for ensuring sustainable development of nation, emotional empowerment between husband and wife is more important than women empowerment.
The writer is a student of University of Dhaka.