There is no place in Pakistan for men who do not consider women their equals

Published: June 14, 2016
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The acrimonious display of chauvinism by Hafiz Hamdullah in a talk show is rightfully being condemned in all quarters of the media. However, we need to go a little further in examining this overt manifestation of a rot that is deeply entrenched in our midst.

To start off, Hafiz Hamdullah’s failed attempts at intimidating and shouting down Marvi Sermid are a continuation of his past behaviour during televised debates. It also seems the pious senator reserves the worst of his bullying for the fairer sex. And this is the crux of the issue – I believe the honourable Hafiz was apoplectic not because he was being challenged but because it was a woman who was standing up to him.

He seemed incensed that Ms Sermid was not yielding to his commands. His extremely sexist expletive and threats to summarily disrobe Ms Sermid are a further confirmation of his shameless misogyny and the cause of his anger.

It would be easy to dismiss Hamdullah’s behaviour as an isolated instance; unfortunately it is anything but. Khwaja Asif’s tasteless insult of Shireen Mazari and the Council of Islamic Ideology’s vacuous proclamations regarding treatment of women are recent examples of how women are viewed by too many in Pakistan.

Something repellent has, for far too long, been stalking the nation in the guise of religiosity and patriotism. If we do not hold those nurturing and perpetuating regressive social mechanisms accountable they will continue to block all avenues to civil liberties for women and minorities.

Ms Sermid set an example worth emulating. In refusing to submit to bullying and elaborating on the incident on social media she exposed Hafiz Hamdullah’s true nature.

There is no place in a liberated self-respecting country for those men who do not consider women their equals. These self-appointed sentinels of faith and country must be exposed for the protectors of misogyny and ignorance that they are.

Let us all follow the example of Ms Sermid and not give an inch to those who would dictate morals to others and not have the common decency to unequivocally condemn and oppose a crime as monstrous as honour killings.

Ms Sermid has been shot at, harrassed and her character repeatedly attacked. Despite all this she has continued to raise a voice for women and minority rights. Not only is she more courageous than her opponents she is far more faithful to her values as well.

Khusro Tariq

Khusro Tariq

The author is a Pakistani-American Psychiatrist currently pursuing training in Jungian psychoanalysis. He blogs on Huffington Post on matters of psychology, faith, politics and poetry. He tweets as @KhwajaKhusro (twitter.com/KhwajaKhusro)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.