Women may not visit the mosques in Pakistan but they regularly go to shrines to seek divine intervention for things spiritual and trivial. The tomb of sufi saint Shah Jamal, in Lahore, is one such shrine which attracts a lot of devotees. Women are usually allowed to go to the general area and have a separate area where they can pray, sleep or eat. However, they are forbidden to enter the room which houses the grave of the saint. Shah Jamal is no exception. The entrance to the grave in the general area have this board which says: “Entrance of women is strictly forbidden.” I have seen such boards before but what I find humiliating is that now they have added the image of a young girl in pony tails with a red cross sign on it, really pushing the message that women are NOT welcome.
Interestingly, inside the segregated area, they have this sign which says: “This area is for women only, men are strictly forbidden to enter.” However I spotted a few men who were roaming inside. A couple of them were distributing mithaee (traditional sweets) but the rest were just loitering. I guess women do not enforce the edict as vigorously as men do.
I saw a lot of really young girls in the shrine and I was wondering what kind of message the silhouette of a young girl in in pony tails with a red cross sign on would they get. Not a nice one, methinks.