Qaisra Shahraz's The Holy Woman

2277 Words10 Pages
‘Here I stand before you, Mother, my father’s Shahzadi Ibadat’. She spread her hands in a flourish. ‘The Holy Woman. The woman he created by killing me. Did you not know that men are the true creators in our culture, Mother? They mould our lives and destinies according to their whims and desires’. (The Holy Woman, p.88) The Holy Woman, by Qaisra Shahraz, encapsulates the restrictions on the lives of women living under patriarchy. The Holy Woman highlights how the powerful social structures and feudal customs, centred on female body and sexuality, restrict women and are difficult to challenge. These customs and tradition are often nurtured, strengthened and kept alive through violent and unjust actions centred on women. This paper shows how the female body is associated with cultural traditions, such as honour, to lay claims to female sexuality. Shahraz’s female figures find their bodies and sexualities as a means of exploitation which possess a threat to their female identity. Shahraz highlights the restrictive family structures that bind women into submission, who passively accept their fate with little resistance. The Holy Woman reveals male domination over female bodies and sexuality and, as this paper also demonstrates, women remain bound within male-constructed boundaries of piety and honour whereas men hold the ultimate deciding power. The Holy Woman is centred on Zari Bano, an educated and wealthy woman, who becomes the victim of a feudal custom. The twenty seven
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