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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ladies undergarments in Pakistan: A taboo



According to the Human Development Index, 60.3% of Pakistan's population lives on under $2 a day. To add insult to the injury, the Increasing inflation is causing women to shift to cheaper alternatives. Many women in Pakistan buy their undergarments from stalls where bras are hanging in the open. Not just the underprivileged class, but women from well to do families are seen flocking to such stalls to buy bras and underwears. These vendors claim to possess ladies undergarments that are imported from European countries at half the prices offered by the supermarkets. One such vendor when asked as to why he is offering an imported product cheaper than supermarket replied “Baji those “big shops” incur rent, electricity charges, and taxes which are passed on to the customer, there is every reason to expect their products to be more expensive.”
The customers of these stalls include men, women and eunuchs. Since female undergarments are a taboo in Pakistan, these places have become a recreational spot for a lot of men. It becomes a very daring endeavor for a woman to make a purchase when she can feel hundreds of eyes on her. Many of these men start loitering around hoping to catch a closer glimpse. To make matters worse, the story does not end here. Most of these stares follow the woman back to her home. Being the victim of many such occasions myself it is easy to relate to the feelings of anxiety and embarrassment. I vividly remember one such occasion when a teenage boy started taking keen interest in the bras that were on offer and was eventually hushed away rudely by the vendor. Upon asking the reason for this the vendor confessed that a lot of men and college going boys come to his stall every day asking about the prices and buying nothing. He believed that such interest stemmed from fetish of bras instead of genuine need.
The female breast is the most misunderstood part of the human body. Some psychologists believe that such behavior among men is found in segregated societies which gives birth to mental and physical frustration. I personally believe that media is also responsible to some extent by portraying women as sex objects. The constant portrayal of the breast as an object instead of a natural part of the human body hammers the image of breast being solely for sexual gratification. This causes temptation and since there is no way for men to vent their frustration, they resort to such behavior. I sometimes wonder what it is about the breast that makes it vulgar, a sex object, a taboo. The primary function of breast is to feed the offspring and there is nothing more natural than the sight of a woman feeding her child on breast milk.   What do you think encourages such behaviour? How can such behaviour be turned around?

2 comments:

  1. Good work....... but i guess its not happening in all Pakistan....the interest is natural and hormonal....but we should not do anything which makes someone uncomfortable or embraces or suffers.

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  2. Thank you Raj.
    I totally fall in with your belief that the interest is natural. The male hormones clearly play a role in creating a more aggressive sexual desire. Such characteristics cut geographical boundaries and are common to men around the globe. But its equally as true that if you are a woman and happen to visit the west, you will feel much more confident and secure buying undergarments on a roadside stall.

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