In Pakistan, The Aurat March On Women’s Day Was Successful. But A Man Abused A Woman On Live TV, So Equality Is Still A Dream

Khalil Ur Rehman

I am sure you have heard of the phrase, “men will be men.” I have always hated this saying because it implies that men are going to what they’ve been doing all along and women are the ones that have to alter their behaviour and compromise. But let’s face it, this is the way of the world and no matter how hard we fight it isn’t going to change anything, not any time soon anyway.

The reason for that isn’t because women have given up. In fact, we have been trying to overthrow patriarchy for a long time but there are a few men in the world who are like crabs. Every time women try and move up step higher on the ladder, they say or do something so appalling that they end up pulling us or actually, pushing us back down. There is no denying that this happens all the time.

It was International Women Day on Sunday, literally the only day of the year women are “honoured” all around the world. Despite that the whole reason I am in this cynical mood today is that I just realised no matter how much of a feminist a man says he is, his actions always speak louder. I am talking about what went down between Pakistan’s famous drama writer, Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar and activist Marvi Sirmed.

Also Read: Pakistan Grants Permission For The Aurat March To Its Women On Account Of Women’s Day. But Only If They Are Decent

But before getting into their feud, let’s talk about Pakistan’s women’s day celebrations that took place on Sunday. Pakistan is not exactly a woman-friendly country, in fact, according to UN statistics it ranks lower than most of its neighbouring countries. That being said, Pakistan just hosted its third Aurat March, allowing thousands of women to take to the streets. These marches are organised by a collective that involves Women’s Action Forum, a women’s rights organisation, Women’s Democratic Front, a socialist feminist organisation, and Hum Aurtein, a feminist group.

The theme for this year was, “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi” (My body, my choice) which did not sit well with a lot of men in the country, obviously. But the organisers did not pay any heed to the rampant backlash since they thought the slogan represented a society without a patriarchal structure. A society where women have rights over their bodies, ending sexual harassment and there are no more forced religious conversions of women. If you think about it, this slogan depicts everything that needs to change so women can live and breathe more freely.

The more backlash that their slogan received the empowered the women felt. But, that one incident between Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar and Marvi Sirmed left us highly irate. To begin with, Khalil Ur Rehman calls himself “Pakistan’s biggest feminist” but in reality, he is Pakistan’s biggest hypocrite.

Also Read: A Pakistani Man Got Beaten By His First Wife On His Third Wedding. We Think He Had It Coming

The reason I say this with such conviction is that he cursed at Marvi Sirmed on live television. He was rude, crass and way out of line. It all began when he was answering a question asked by the host about the slogan of the march. He said, “When the court has denied the usage of slogans like ‘Mera jism, meri marzi’ (My body, my choice), then it hurts me deeply when figures like Marvi Sirmed use these slogans.”

Once he said this, Marvi interrupted him by reiterating the slogan over and over again. This is when Khalil Ur Rehman yelled at her by asking her to not speak while he is speaking. That exact moment is the depiction of how he really views women. Clearly, the cloak of feminism was something he was wearing for convenience, and it’s not what he genuinely thinks. To be offended merely by women taken agency over their own body shouldn’t shake someone up so much.

But it did not end there. The things that he said after this are what really left us baffled. He told her things like, “Tere jism men hai kya? (What is in your body) Don’t talk in between. Thookta nahi hai koi tere jism pe (No one would even spit on your body). Shut up you b****. Beech men nahi bolo (Don’t talk in between).”

What I don’t understand is who the hell made him the morality police? If that is the slogan for the women’s march, how is it affecting him in any way? Neither is he a women’s activist nor is he a woman so what gives him the right to comment in the first place? Let’s put that aside for a second, how is this supposed to be okay with anyone?

Do you know what else annoyed me? The host of that debate tried to quiet Marvi instead of calling Khalil out of his words. She kept asking Marvi to talk when it’s her turn but not once did she tell Khalil to not use such language.

This incident triggered a fierce social media debate. One side blatantly supported Khalil while the other side wants to ban him from TV. Check out some of the tweets:

I have to stand with the people rallying to get him banned. Even if there is a difference in opinion, this kind of behaviour can’t be tolerated.

Mitali Shah

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