Jameela Nishat is a woman of steel or else she wouldn’t have survived in the dangerous realm of her work — fighting for the rights of victims of domestic violence.
One can’t help admiring this gutsy woman who threw away a secure government job and plunged headlong into an area where angels fear to tread.
A post-graduate in English literature, Jameela grew up with a keen interest in art and craft but she was not allowed to paint as elders from her family were of the opinion that sending a woman to painting classes entailed drawing a nude model, which they found revolting. She realised that women in her community had no say in decisions. That was her first turning point.
The sad part is that even as Shaheen empowered young women to assert their rights and resist injustice, her work was met with hostility, especially by men, who viewed it with jaundiced eyes. To them, she is “trying to mislead their womenfolk and destroy the sanctity of families”. One can take solace from the fact that great works in the past usually had this kind of reward. Remember Socrates, Gautam Buddha, Swami Vivekanand et al. They were all reviled by the orthodoxy in their time. It was later that mankind realised its folly, and start revering them.
Many are the times, Jameela tells Postnoon, that she received not just threatening calls, but stinking abuses which no woman should hear. Doesn’t matter, Jameela; there are always some sane elements in the society, and because of them, we survive. Carry on.