• Maryam Salman

Pakistan's MeToo Movement Shows Us How Unwilling We Are To Call Out Our So Called Idols

On April, 19th, 2018 Meesha Shafi utilised the platform of Twitter and accused Ali Zafar of harassing her on a jam night in Lahore. She said, “been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry: Ali Zafar." This resulted in a series of tweets and retweets and the division of fans, some in support of Meesha Shafi while others defending their star, Ali Zafar. However, the #MeToo movement gave motivation to many abused women to speak for their rights.

Regardless of the fact that Ali Zafar wasn’t proven guilty in the court of law, we really need to understand the fact that everything cannot be proved. Most of the time, the victims of assaults are too traumatized to file a report. Once out of the trauma, they are unable to prove anything against anyone. A victim should always be encouraged by society to have medical tests done as soon as possible, but unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite.

Victim blaming is a widespread culture that will take many years to eradicate as the mindset of the people needs to be changed. To change this intoxicating and choking culture, awareness programs targeting both the genders should be arranged at both college and university levels so that the way of thinking of the current and future generations could be changed. This will help people handle assault victims in the most appropriate manner. Anything to raise morale and reduce the trauma of the victim should be done.

The people of Pakistan, are in dire need of guidance, they need to be enlightened. Meesha Shafi’s tweet gave fuel to the fire of the #MeToo movement. After seeing such famous personalities facing their fears and speaking up despite knowing the consequences, many women around the nation stood up against the unjustifiable norms of patriarchy. Women are generally given a shut-up call when they talk about speaking up for themselves, and these women are known to be a ‘threat’ to society. In reality, they are a threat to the men who objectify women.

Meesha Shafi was backed by many big names with Osman Khalid Butt being the first once followed by Urwa Hocane. On the other hand, Ali Zafar was also supported by his co-star Maya Ali. In spite of Meesha’s tweet, many women stepped forward and accused Ali Zafar of harassment. Makeup artist Leena Ghani said, "I have known Ali, he has on several occasions crossed boundaries of what is appropriate behaviour between friends''. Apart from her, Journalist Maham Javaid also narrated an incident her cousin had encountered.

Feminists in Pakistan are viewed as displaying the western values and often face a backlash from the Islamic religious Scholars. According to an article by dw.com, Islam was the first religion to give the most rights to women, even the right to inherit was given by the Prophet Mohammad. This was a revolution for the women as for the first time in the history of mankind, the position of women was raised. The sole problem is in the interpretation of the Holy Scripture. The Women’s March faced much backlash and was trolled by masses around the nation. Even the assembly of KPK condemned the march for being ‘anti-Islamic’. The men of our society need to understand that feminism aims to eradicate toxic masculinity that suppresses women in our society and is not really against all men.

Despite the double standards, the #MeToo movement has also motivated the boys and men victims of any sort of assault to speak up and share their stories with others. Not everyone is capable of defending themselves from the offender and not everyone is strong enough to fight against these problems. Men too face immense backlash when they try to open up and are mocked and compared to women. This injustice towards men should be terminated as well. It is because they too have full right to express their emotions and grief without being ridiculed.

As soon as the actor tweeted about the incident, numerous people started blaming her without having any solid evidence to defend Ali. Why did Meesha Shafi face a major backlash? Just because she spoke for her rights? Or just because of the mere fact that she is a woman? Women are underestimated in our society and their concerns and opinions are degraded and often dismissed without giving much thought. By many people around the nation, women are regarded as a gender that can easily be manipulated and based on this, their words are not entrusted.

Some major actions have to be taken to end this mindset. The government should provide support to the people who are facing such traumatizing experiences and should set up uncompromising laws. With that, proper constitutional amendments should be made in order to eradicate these inhumane practices. Strict punishments like castration or public hanging of the rapist should be imposed along with a broader implementation of laws and social norms to really target such crimes and hold society accountable.

This is how the #MeToo movement has paved a way to make appropriate use of our technological resources. This movement has taught us the correct use of our resources to combat for our rights that none should be given the authority to take away. However, the movement was solely able to provide justice to only a few major cases and still struggles to make an everlasting impact. We need to do something more than just tweeting at the comfort of our own home, we need to step out of our comfort zone and take the matter in our own hands. To change all of this, international courts need to hear our voices. At last, we need to teach our children to always stand up for justice and to respect everyone regardless of their gender.

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