Romantic love won’t be celebrated this year at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city. To much chagrin, the university – one of the nation’s best – has issued a ‘ban’ on Valentine’s Day.
In its place, Vice Chancellor Dr Zafar Iqbal Randhawa has suggested people observe a newfangled holiday: ‘Sister’s Day’.
“In our culture, women are more empowered and earn their due respect as sisters, mothers, daughters and wife,” he reportedly said.
“We are forgetting our culture and western culture is gaining its ground in our society. Those nations, which forget their cultural values, are diminished from the map of the world.”
The university is contemplating having male students gift ‘scarfs, shawls and gowns’ with the university insignia to female students in lieu of red roses. How it would enforce the ban is unknown.
Detractors criticised and mocked the proposal for its treatment of women.
If Faisalabad Uni wanted a #SistersDay, they had 364 other days to choose from. To pick 14th Feb, the one day dedicated to non-platonic love shows a desperation and cultural paranoia more than any genuine regard for their sisters. 1/2
If they are so concerned about their sisters’ wellbeing, why don’t they pledge to allow them to inherit equally. I bet that would mean more to them than this monkey’s tail of a day.
Happy #ValentinesDay in advance.2/2
— Usama Sarfraz (@UsamaSarfraz19) January 14, 2019
— Riz (@husnain_rizwan) January 15, 2019
To the sisters of Faisalabad: May your virtue be best preserved by the gift of restraint that all civilisations and religions insist upon for men, especially Islam. Women are not objects to be policed by university administrations.Vice is in the mind of the beholder. Or principle
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) January 14, 2019
Brilliant – though in the interest of fairness, the female students should gift chastity belts/horse blinders to the men, or better yet, have their eyes gouged out? https://t.co/ABtHhXYV1o
— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) January 13, 2019
The Pakistani legal system contains both civic and sharia law, meaning offences against Islam, the state religion, can be tried, and convicts sentenced. Corporal punishments, including flogging and death by hanging, can be imposed.
According to Human Rights Watch, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to be an activist in Pakistan. “Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture take place with impunity,” its website provides.
The country’s most famous activist, girls’ education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, survived an assassination attempt. Many others, such as Sabeen Mahmud, weren’t as fortunate.Do you have an idea for a story?
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