When honour lies in what happens between the legs of women

Published: July 16, 2016
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Qandeel Baloch is dead. PHOTO: FILE

Qandeel Baloch is dead. Seems like the woman had earned the ire of way too many men. In Pakistan, the ire of one man is enough to claim your life or at least ruin your face forever with a splash of some acid. First, it was Maulana Abdul Qavi, followed by her husband’s revelations. Finally, her brother came for her life.

One woman against three mighty vicegerents of God?

Boy, she needed to be put back in her skin and reminded of her auqaat (place) as a woman.

Let’s fragment her experiences with the mentioned three men.

Qavi

The then Ruet-e-Hilal Committee member got embroiled into controversy after Qandeel uploaded a video and some selfies with him of their meeting in a private hotel room. With her revelations of Qavi’s flirtations and inexcusable conduct considering that he is a religious cleric, Qandeel claimed to have exposed the true face of this mullah.

When the controversy around mufti Qavi surfaced, even I was a bit wary about Qandeel’s version. But his recent statement,

“People can learn a lesson from the fate of this woman who had accused me falsely,”

Makes me wonder if all along Qandeel had been telling us the truth.

His statement came during his ‘condemnation’ of the killing. It amazes me how shamelessly he is indirectly justifying the killing by referring to it as some form of punishment for Qandeel’s alleged misdemeanour with him. He seems to be telling us that she has been served well. Makes one wonder if he has some role in ensuring that she is ‘served well.’

Husband

While the husband claimed that it was a love marriage and he still had letters written by Qandeel with her blood to him, the social media starlet offered a different version. She claimed that it was an arranged marriage and she had been a victim of domestic abuse during the one year long relationship. As if accusations of abuse were not enough, Qandeel went on to announce that she will now fight for the custody of her son.

Brother

According to news reports, police have confirmed that Qandeel was killed for ‘honour.’ Family sources claimed that Qandeel’s brothers had asked her to quit modelling and the one who killed her had been threatening her about uploading pictures and videos on social media.

Qandeel was famous for her suggestive videos that she uploaded on social media. While I respect her right to use her body as she pleases, I have had my reservations as a feminist over what I see as her own objectification of herself. In my opinion, women have better talents that merely looks. If you say that this is ‘what she wants,’ I still feel that she has been conditioned by our patriarchal society to want this.

It is just like we are made to believe that we, as labourers, are compensated for the amount of our labour, while in reality the capitalist enjoys the surplus that we create. The systems in place are basically exploitative and we are conditioned to serve these systems believing that we are doing good to our own selves. However, no opinion or morality brigade is superior to a human’s life.

Just this morning, my sister told me how a male friend of hers told her that it’s good that Qandeel has been killed. When asked to elaborate, he claimed that with her death ‘so many young men have been saved from sin’ as there will be no ‘sinful’ videos any more.

It amazes me how helpless our ‘young men’ are when it comes to saving themselves from ‘sin.’ To ensure their safety, their only solution is always the elimination of this sin – mind you, sin is just synonymous with woman – and never exercise of self-control.

In reality, it is Qandeel’s honesty and defiance of patriarchal norms that actually points out how dishonourable our society really is. She was alone, powerful, influential. And she told all the haters out there that she refused to be suppressed under their patriarchal standards of morality. As Andaleeb Rizvi aptly puts it in her Facebook status,

“Qandeel Baloch’s honour killing is a reminder that we are not an honourable people, and probably won’t be for another 100 years. She brought the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the mullah out for the public to view. She told of forced marriage and domestic violence she faced at the hands of her own family and husband. She told the society that she was the only owner of her body and self, and will not be dictated by men. She revealed how unhonourable this patriarchal society is, and so she was ‘put down’ by a man.”

Pakistan likes to believe that it is a champion of ghairat  (honour). After all, hum maaen, hum behnain, hum betiyaan, qaumon ki izzat hum se hai (We mothers, sisters and daughters, the honour of nations lies in us).

To someone who is not aware of how things work in this country, I bring to you a small definition of what honour really means to this country.

To be crude, it basically revolves around what happens between the legs of women. To be precise, this honour is the tool employed by our patriarchal society to ensure that no woman enjoys the freedom she wants.

Leaving Qandeel Baloch aside, pick up any instance of honour killing. It is no rocket science; all we see is a constant struggle on the part of the champions of the ghairat brigade to enforce the regualtions of morality – lest you forget, these rules are only for women, to make them subservient to the authority of men. Be it the case of Sumaira, the 17-year-old girl who was killed by her ghairatmand brother in Orangi Town, Karachi, this April, for speaking to a stranger man, or that of 16-year-old Zeenat Bibi who was torched to death by her family for marrying out of choice. These women are a few of the women who were reminded of the fate of exercising freewill. With them, women in general are reminded of the lesser status that society actually gives to them.

“In case you are under the misperception that you can equal man, I will remind you of your status,”

Says society to each of us women.

While many of us will feel that not all women are deprived of freedoms, let me remind you of a harsh reality. Our freedom as women is restricted to what is allowed by the men who ‘own’ us – our fathers, brothers, husbands, etc.

If I am an independent woman today who can work with freedom, it is only because my father is a progressive man whose values allowed me to attain independence. As much as it breaks my heart to say this, even our freedoms and the amount of them thereof depend on our men. Qandeel Baloch is dead because the freedom that she had been exercising all along had not been validated by her family’s men. The same will be the fate of any of us who dares to defy the parameters of freedom defined by the men of our families.

Let’s sink back into our collective depressions.

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Minerwa Tahir

Minerwa Tahir

The author has completed her Masters in Mass Communication and is currently incharge of the Karachi desk at a local leading daily. Her interests include Marxism, feminism and social issues. She tweets @minerwatahir (twitter.com/minerwatahir?lang=en)

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

  • Irzam Javed

    Minerwa Tahir good job. I really appreciate it.
    This is the murder of Humanity Recommend

  • Naveed

    Its a sad story through and through with a number of people sharing the responsibility of this gruesome crime but whats even more sad is a horrible rant with an even worse title.Recommend

  • wb

    Ms. Baloch was as dumb as my rabbit. But , she had all the rights in the world to live.

    Pakistan is a country where stupid idiots kill stupid idiots because idiot no. 1 did not agree with idiot no. 2. The question that idiot no. 1 contested with idiot no. 2 was that who was a better idiot!!!

    That’s Pakistan. Can anyone refute me logically? Out of 200 million? No.Recommend

  • @nsmartinworld

    Thank you for the Western feminist tut-tut.Recommend

  • dee

    Rather than collective depression, know that the sadness and pain of today, is honor-living for Qandeel. She deserves no less that for women everywhere to cry her name, and the names of too many others, and there is no other time for the grief but now.

    It’s my hope that with each sacrifice women have made, more and more people will be horrified and take action. Men like your father take action by stepping ahead of others and outside of culture norms, always a brave move. It’s not by politics that things will change, but by men becoming good husbands to their wives, fathers to their daughters, sons to their sisters and mothers.Recommend

  • John E. Natas

    Brave young lady to write this. I hope all goes well for you. Islam has been made to become s a curse upon the human race & Pakistan is a prime example of this.Recommend

  • Amnah Khalid

    What a cheap headline in the name of feminism. Baloch was killed because until her real name was hidden her family enjoyed the money she brought in, later it became a matter of family honour. Besides that the Baloch tribe wanted to sue her…what rubbish u are writing. Get your facts right before instead of shaming all women or are you aiming to get the same cheap publicity as Baloch ??Recommend

  • asad

    normally people kill when they know they can get away with it. If you don’t have the right laws and right people to implement, you may be faced with even more heinous crimes which would prevent us have any faith in humanityRecommend

  • Fahim

    Yes, honor lies between legs of women. If not for you it is your fateRecommend

  • LS

    One of the worst country for women…

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/11/29/247-wall-st-worst-countries-women/19630755/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/29/worst-countries-for-women_n_6241216.html?slideshow=true#gallery/385698/9

    And these people have galls to say that they respect women… like everything else in the country the respect is also a sham.Recommend

  • Munna

    Good Riddance. Another Baghairat member of the Liberal Activist Brigade bites the dust.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    why do do liberals of pakistan only awaken from their sleep mode after something liberal is accompanied by some sort of a tragedy. These butt hurt cry babies have the same annoying sequence of actions every time a tragedy occurs:

    1- Mourn
    2- Whine, moan and complain about how oppressed they are
    3- How every man in pakistan is capable of honor killing
    4- Making sure their crocodile tears of guilt are splattered all of the social media for whole word to see what a laughing stock we have become
    5-Try their level best to promote a negative image of pakistan simply because of one incident involving an individual case
    6-Make sure everyone in the country is made to feel guilty about something they did NOT do!
    7-Shun down everyone else who remotely tries to reason with them or present a counter argument

    Like give it a rest. Yes, its a tragedy she has died. Blame the murderer. What is wrong with you folks going out to blame ordinary citizens and claiming that this has to do with a deep rooted societal problem? Ridiculous.
    His brother killed him for God knows what reason and no one else has anything to do with her murder. But liberals are using the tragedy as an excuse to paint a horrific picture of pakistan that its oppressed for artists and female models and how everyone is at risk of being killed for honor for being bold and bla bla bla . RIDICULOUS. Contain your hate of the country within yourself and dont pour it out online. Government must monitor liberals’ freedom of speech online as their intentions are to hurt the country’s image.Recommend

  • Kukku

    We have to be Realistic.
    She met Mullah with a mutual agreement but then she decided to expose and insult him (and supposedly the whole mullah community) which was a breach of trust and privacy.
    A Mullah also has a right to “Privacy”. You must expect hard reaction when you will deceive somebody by making his private video and then putting it on media.Recommend

  • Fenwick Melville

    She should have gone abroad as soon as she had the chance. Westerners have more respect for women on the whole.Recommend

  • MGTT

    One of the most stinging articles I’ve ever read. Great job, keep it up!. Recommend

  • raj

    Very bold but honest articleRecommend

  • Awais Imran

    I don’t get the hypocrisy of the writer. Yes women have been treated unfairly but this very society was responsible for electing the first Muslim head of State. Clearly a generalisation of all men is not just unfair but also pathetic on the writers part. It seems for all feminist freedom too lies in what happens between the legs of women !!
    With that said what happened to Qandeel Baloch is sad and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Strong legislation is perhaps the only way. May Allah have mercy on her soul.Recommend

  • Salma

    and how prudish you are, as if it is a great virtue. Especially if you are also cynical.Recommend

  • Yourown

    Well written and keep it up!Recommend

  • MR.X

    Women need some incidents to blame all men ive noticed. The west has taught them through movies etc.Recommend

  • Awais Imran

    Do they my friend ? 1 in 4 women in UK suffer domestic abuse. 2 women are murdered every week in UK as a result of the said abuse. These are global issues my friend and blame game would achieve nothing.Recommend

  • MR.X

    The murder was wrong no doubt,by why bash all men. They like to bash men. The media has made women like this they are always crying men are oppressers bla bla.Even the westeren women are still naggiing(not satisfied) with a 70% divorce rate and women turn a blind eye to that fact. Ihve had enough of this bullshit.Recommend

  • yasir

    Excellent Writ-upRecommend

  • Iftikhar Ali
  • Aka

    How have all women been shamed here? You are being ridiculous.Recommend

  • siesmann

    So why would the same Mullah claim himself as pious face of Islam.Recommend

  • Khaleesi1547

    Now you can only imagine the state in Pakistan where the reporting rate itself is abysmally low! Please do not live in an illusionary world and comfort yourself with these statistics.Recommend

  • Khaleesi1547

    Sadly this kind of support from the so called elite or liberalists was absent while she was alive. All of sudden, her death has made people realise how BRAVE she was and how deep-rooted patriarchy is in this country. RIP Qandeel.Recommend

  • Sane

    This is electronic and social media who set stage to kill her.Recommend

  • Sane

    Where Mullah comes in?Recommend

  • Sane

    Westerners have made the women a sell-able commodity.Recommend

  • Sandeep Karan

    very well said. as long as you are not cheating anyone, it does not have whether you are having relation or sex with a man, women or a donkey.Recommend

  • Ibrar allshore

    Dear writers don’t portray what she has done as a way to success and the right path to success……. please…… just condemn her killing thats what we all should do……….

    What she has done was the wrong way of success. don’t encourage others this way
    Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    You don’t like Mullahs , i get it.
    But what has Mullah got to do with this.
    Did he force the brother to kill?
    Don’t let your prejudices drive you into a senseless talk.Recommend

  • Hammad Majeed

    what is this crap u publishedRecommend

  • S

    Learn to read and write English first. Before commenting.
    You are pathetic. Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    You do know that anyone can edit Wikipedia pages,don’t you?
    I think you are mixing Afghanistan with Pakistan.

    I can point you to pages that show the sex slavery in America and India.
    But you only see what your eyes want to see.
    Those with glass houses should not throw stones at others.

    Or are you saying that women would rather choose to be sex workers rather then be protected by their family?Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    What has the mullah done , she went to the mullah wearing strange clothes.
    She is as much to blame as that idiot.
    Or are you saying that the Mullah forced her to take those selfies,post them on media and then play victim.
    Grow up.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Desi Liberals have created a sick society where every woman of bad characters is portrayed as a heroine.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Who killed thousands of muslims passing through Punjab?
    Who killed and continues to kill thousands of Kashmirs?
    Who killed Sonia Gandhi?
    Who killed Kennedy?

    Answer these questions and i shall answer yours?Recommend

  • AmberJeanetteGardner

    Placing “honour” on the women in the family is basically saying the weakest in the family is responsible for every single mistake of every other family member BESIDES her own, including those who are freer to make mistakes (the men), and we all know “boys will be boys” is a favorite patriarchal quote. It’s shocking any woman has survived.Recommend