Let me (re)introduce you to a term called “slut shaming”, undoubtedly our most favorite pass time. This might not sound familiar to many but I promise after I get done with the definition most of us will be able to relate fully.
Slut shaming is the deliberate act of calling a woman a slut, a whore or impugning her character in sexual terms in order to embarrass, humiliate, intimidate, degrade or shame her for actions or behaviors that are a normal part of female sexuality. In simpler words as long as gendered slurs like “slut” continue to be weapons casually wielded against girls and women, any female who acts in a way that another person doesn’t like is at risk for being slut-shamed.
To summarize it even more, any woman who acts in a way that is not considered acceptable in the society she lives in, is attacked and called names in order to rule out her credibility and divert focus from the main issue. I too have been a victim of slut shaming, simply because I choose to be vocal about issues.
Undoubtedly, it falls under the ‘moral policing’ ( more popularly known as the ghairat brigade) category which again is our most favorite pass time. Let’s quote a real life example, while speaking to the media after visiting survivor of the recent gang rape incident, Sharmila Farooqui had this to say:
“Bohat rude hain, kuch bata nahin rahin. Keh rahain hai subah say sab unsay bohat kuch pooch rahay hain. Badtameezi say baat kar rahee hai. Dost kay sath rehti hain, kehti hain hum rent share kertay hain” ( she is really rude, is not disclosing names and being extremely rude, saying she is being interrogated since morning. She lives with her friend, a guy, she says they share rent”
To this a reporter responded with: “Aur rent kay paisay kahan say atay hain” (where does she get the money to pay the rent). I fail to understand how any of this information about her personal life was in anyway relevant to the case. As for Sharmila, if she was expecting a woman who had been gang raped by 5 men and thrown in a ditch to be all cheery and hospitable, she immediately needs to seek help.
Ironically, Sharmila is not the only jumping on the Ghairat Brigade. While making a fiery speech against the PML (N), Haider Abbas Rizvi, had this to say:
“Humain bhi pata hai kiss ki behan betiyaan kisay sath kiss kiss tarah shaadiyan kartee rahee hain”
“We know how their sisters and daughters got married and to whom”
“Humain pata hai kiski beti kaisay bhaagi thee kiskay sath bhaagi thee, pandora box na khulwayain”
“We all know whose daughter eloped with whom, don’t force us to open the pandora box”
The whole argument (if it can be called that at all) began when Chaudary Nisar said:
“hum zaatiyaat par nahi utarna chahtay par(..) hum unki wife unkay baray main kya sochtee hain wo release kerdaingay”
(we don’t want to get personal but if forced we will bring forth Ataf’s ex wive’s opinions about him.
This is not the first time, PML(N) has used moral policing to attack it’s political rivals,but it was certainly shocking to hear a member of the MQM, a secular progressive party, to resort to such sexist and derogatory remarks.
On another talk show on a popular Urdu News Channel, while speaking about Veena Malik, the host said: “Kanjiriyoun ki bhi koi izaat hoti hai” (even prostitutes have some respect) while a furious caller says “ Iss bayghairaat veena malik ko koi samjhaya” (someone please get a hold on this shameless woman”
These are examples of how moral policing (i.e ghairat brigade) is used for various purposes may it be political rivalry, diversion tactic or point scoring. Even Country’s most widely read Urdu Daily had the audacity to publish in depth details of the survivor, including her name, her friends’ name and even her address. This is not only against all internationally practiced procedures but also an extremely unethical act that has endangered the life of the survivor and her friends. Meanwhile, Urdu Dailys have also published columns slandering Veena Malik, and claiming that she has “damaged the reputation of the country” stirring a moral outrage amongst Islamic parities.
However, I seem to be missing the point in all this, because last time I checked Veena Malik didn’t represent me, politics had nothing to do with one’s daughter’s or sister’s character, and rape was a crime, a heinous one; irrespective of the victim’s lifestyle.
We should be ashamed of ourselves as a society. It has come down to a point where many of us are advocating rape and reinforcing the “she asked for it” mindset. A woman has to prove her piety in order for the authorities to take action against injustice. Our politicians are resorting to personal attacks in order to make political points. A film actress participating in a reality show has suddenly become the sole representative of the entire country’s integrity.
It really is humiliating for me as a woman to come to terms with the kind of society we have become. Pathetic as it is, when it comes to a woman standing for injustice we are quick to snub her down, we compare rape and pedophilia stats to that of other countries in order to hide our own shortfalls. Yet we are quick to use the same woman as an epitome of our countries honor dare she decides to make her own decisions for herself.
If there’s any shame left at all, we should be demanding a public apology from our politicians, media houses involved in maligning and slandering, and ask for more ethical and gender sensitive discourse in the future. In a country, where even 3 year old’s are not safe from heinous crimes such as rape the Ghairat Brigade should know better than to raise hue and cry over other’s personal lives and focus on the real issues.