I have been a fan of Meesha Shafi’s voice for a while now. I find her voice mesmerising and unique.I love her honesty and integrity, she’s a kick-ass feminist in my view. Some would say she’s ‘modern’, or ‘western’ even. Many have tweeted her, questioning her faith, her motherhood, the choices she makes. So when I heard about the workplace sexual harassment, it was unsurprising that a strong, hardworking, independent woman who knows her mind, quite rightly raised these concerns with the relevant authority, who declined to hear her case. That’s not it, the ‘alleged’ perpetrator the filed a FIR (our version of a police report) against Meesha Shafi for posting defamatory content online. What I find interesting is that some well known veteran female actresses and the newer breed of celebrities began publicly supporting HIM. Validating the harasser without knowing anything about the incident. It’s HER who is called a liar. It’s HER who is too sensitive. It’s HER who’s life choices and job is questioned. Comments onshe lives, works and dresses started surfacing from women (and men) online!! Maybe I expected better from women.


Why am I telling you this I hear you ask?


The #metoo movement went global. We have seen many countries and well known women (mainly) speaking up about their experiences of sexual harassment/abuse. In Pakistan (and others alike) women began speaking up. It’s notable that many more made references towards sexual harassment but too scared or unwilling to name names. This tells me that by doing so women know that this would result in further abuse, reduced opportunities or even labelled trouble makers.


Then you hear about the countless murders, rapes, brutalities against women, girls and babies.Shocking right? This has been going on for decades. When 7 year old Kasur was raped and murdered we heard cries from the world for Pakistan to take great action. When a mother her children we driving back in the evening and their car broke down, she called the highways helpline who told her that it’s not in their jurisdiction so did not attend. The mother was raped by a passerby. What followed was a shocking and bizarre take on this incident. Why was she out so late? Isn’t she aware that it’s not safe for women to be out at that time without a man. How could she put her children at risk? I mean what the f***! Pakistan is one of the unsafe countries in the world. I wonder why??!?!


I must admit when Imran Khan was elected as PM I felt hopeful and I even thought about travelling to Pakistan more often. Well that was short lived. Headlines flashed on my mobile ‘Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan blames women for sexual violence’. Utter disbelief! If the PM of a country holds this view and publicly explains his reasoning (his experience as a womanising cricket player maybe?) well that gives these twisted perverts the green light to do what they want. And then the cherry on top, PM now claims his comments were taken out of context (in an interview led by a white/western tv presenter). It’s only taken him few months to ‘correct’ himself.


The recent brutal murder of Noor Makhdoom who was adaughter of a former diplomat and from an affluent family tells me that crime & brutality against women is just another day in the office. This is a national crisis!!!! When men admit openly to rape, sexual assaults, murders against babies, girls, and women, and do not fear the consequences then surely the time has come for Pakistan to acknowledge this crisis and start making way for significant changes in the law to protect women and girls!Educate! Change the dialogue on how we speak about women and girls! Equal rights! Safer transport. Safer streets. Safer homes. Safer everything.


Even when I write this I’m not convinced. I’m disappointed. I’m scared. I’m fearful.


The change needs to come from the inception, when the sex is determined in the wombs of mothers.


I would love to hear your take on this. Do you agree or disagree? Tell me why?

 

4 Comments

  • Suma

    23/09/2021

    There was a time in my life when I stopped watching Pakistan news because it was too stressful to hear about crime and abuse etc. But over the years, I've learnt that it depends on freedom the press has in a country. One of the explanation why Pakistan seems an unsafe country is because the press has the freedom to broadcast whatever they see or want. It comes out as the Mafia has more control over the press than the government. There are people who use media to spread fear, but obviously, I can't say for sure. I'm not saying there is no crime in Pakistan but every time I discuss this topic with people ( working class) back home they say Pakistan isn't all what you see in the news. But I do feel a bit unsafe in Pakistan, especially being a woman; I wouldn't dare go out on my own.

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  • Anonymous

    02/08/2021

    I completely agree, it's always the woman thats blamed- and it needs to be stopped! How can we try and stop this...perhaps raising awareness in big events like melas or something?

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    • Butterflies

      15/08/2021

      Not a bad idea!! I do feel that the raising awareness and talking about healthy and unhealthy relationships in the home, mosques, community and role modelling positive behaviours. Boys and men need to start respecting their sisters and not seeing them as their ‘honour’ or sexualise them as an object that men will exploit. Instead, asking boys and men to respect girls and women and treat them as an equal human. Allow them to stand up for themselves and for everyone to call out men and boys for misogynistic comments and behaviours. It’s the man that needs to lower their gaze not for women and girls to ‘hide away’ metaphorically speaking

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    • Butterflies

      15/08/2021

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