Militarized Masculinities, Female Bodies, and ‘Security Discourse’ in Post-9/11 Pakistan

Tahmina Rashid is Programme Director, International Development, School of Global Studies, Social Science & Planning at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. She has taught for a number of years in Pakistan and also worked in urban slums in Dhaka from 2004 to 2005.
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  • July 2009

    A nation-state has a responsibility to protect its women as equal citizens, yet states like Pakistan have structurally disenfranchised women from state protection by making them half citizens and reducing their right to be their own legal person. As a consequence, women have been excluded from discourses on internal and external security. In any armed conflict, women are the ones who suffer the most, yet they are embodied as symbols of honour for the state and society. Through security debates, the roles and boundaries of 'male' and 'female' are so defined that they perpetuate violence through sharp divisions between the 'public' and the 'private' sphere. The protector's (state/men of the family) fear of failure results in restrictions being imposed on the protected (women), including those on their participation in policy debates. Acts of violence on the weak and the vulnerable are justified through moral arguments.