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Purdah in Pakistan: Seclusion and Modern Occupations for Women

Hanna Papanek
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 33, No. 3, Sexism in Family Studies (Aug., 1971), pp. 517-530
DOI: 10.2307/349849
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/349849
Page Count: 14
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Purdah in Pakistan: Seclusion and Modern Occupations for Women
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Abstract

The purdah system, which limits a woman's mobility outside her home, may be an extreme example of highly segregated systems of sex role allocation, but shows many fundamental features in common with other societies. Purdah is an important institution among Muslims in Pakistan and India, but has not been well studied, partly because secluded women are inaccessible to male researchers. The purdah system is related to status, the division of labor, interpersonal dependency, social distance and the maintenance of moral standards; the two conceptual formulations used to analyze the system with reference to these factors are "separate worlds" and "symbolic shelter." In the present paper, special emphasis is placed on the influence of purdah observance and values on women's participation in modern occupations. Medicine and teaching are found to be the most important high prestige occupations for educated women because of the special needs of a female clientele in a sex-segregated system.

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