The Naya Nothing: Imran Khan talks of women empowerment while Faisal Vawda tells women to go back to the kitchen

Published: October 30, 2018
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On Kal Tak, aired on Express News, Faisal Vawda got into a heated argument with PML-N's Azma Bokhari and told her to go back to her kitchen.

Politics in Pakistan has oft been marred by misogynist comments, passed on by smirking alpha-males. Over the years, lawmakers were found indulging in questionable conversations that included queer, sexist subjects such as the femininity of a woman, to the character assassination of female political workers and the riot of superiority. There certainly has been no stone left unturned. This vile talk was perpetrated by political bigwigs including the infamous Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif and Rana Sanaullah amongst others.

Very recently, Faisal Vawda, a sitting minister of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was caught on live television, mockingly suggesting a female politician of the opposition to cater to ‘woman-appropriate’ household chores. In the talk show, Kal Tak, aired on Express News, Vawda got into a heated argument with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Azma Bokhari and ended up saying,

Jayen, jayen. Apnay ghar ka choola jalayen”

(Go, go. Tend to your kitchen)

While there is no air of inferiority surrounding the domestication of a woman, the arrogant gestures and teasing manner with which it was syndicated, became a matter of great concern. For PTI, an organisation that has always claimed to be the protector of women’s rights, and climbed atop the administrative throne based on a hefty women-oriented mandate, it is very disappointing indeed to see its representatives stoop to such lows. What’s worse is the fact that an official statement is yet to be issued in condemnation.

For much of its 22 years, PTI was believed to be an organisation focused entirely on women and youth. Imran Khan’s voter base was consistently belittled based on this compartment, but throughout the course of his struggle to power, Imran reiterated the need to maintain emphasis on women, their dignity, respect, equal opportunities and participation in politics. Yet, at this crucial point in history, where the claimants of change have finally taken over, we see little to no difference. It is also important to reminisce the case of the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, which was not only shunned by policymakers from the former ruling PML-N, but also PTI. It was amidst great furor that the bill was finally passed, followed by upheavals caused by various factions of the society.

Despite a prominent agenda of women empowerment, Imran was caught on an interview, disgracing feminism as degrading to mothers. It was further accentuated when a newly elected PTI MNA, and renowned talk show host, Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain tweeted an inappropriate picture about a seasoned female politician. While it was deleted later on, it only proves the degradation of the prevalent male psyche.

Nevertheless, it is only apt to mention that the same government has declared a ‘woman empowering’ need of assistance through the Human Rights Ministry, led by the very vocal Shireen Mazari, yet another victim of sexist comments. On the one side, where there is insensitivity, it is also countered by other sensible admissions that illuminate this darkened path. Sadly though, it is administered mostly by women who are aided by very few hesitant, but heavily-ridiculed men, for their lack of ‘mardangi’ (masculinity).

According to Jinnah, the prosperity of a nation is said to be manifested in the treatment of its women. He laid great significance on equipping women with knowledge and power, because in their hands lie progress and development. This very idea was swept off the table by Prime Minister Imran, who in his maiden speech as the elected PM highlighted this conundrum. In the face of oppression, women have been subjected to the worst of destinies, and yet many still continue to shine beyond the constrictions and boundaries in place. It is in this very essence that we appeal to the Prime Minister to pay heed to his promises.

When lawmakers and sitting ministers take light of this matter, it takes from the intensity of the situation. If such incidents are not dealt with an iron fist, it will only escalate towards destruction. And in Pakistan, women no longer have the temerity to sustain under this pressure. It is already a case of harrowing difficulty for women to prove their mettle, and if such people continue to be let loose, it will only advance the plight of our women.

For a country that is still hesitant to field women in general constituencies, and a society that culturally bars women from engaging in outdoor work, specifically one so publicly motivated such as politics, these comments only add further fuel to the fire. Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of female labour force participation, hovering around the 25% mark and stands at 141/144 on the global gender disparity rankings. It is also pertinent to note that there are still regions where basic rights, such as the freedom to be educated, to vote, to marry consensually, and the right to live freely, is still a pipe dream. In a country that is still victimised by violent customs such as honour killings, vanni ( a custom where women are forced to marry as a form of punishment of a crime committed by their male relatives), karo kari (premeditated honour killing) and so on, these incidents provide a justification for the creation of a superior man space.

In politics, the turmoil has only surged. For a profession that is considered a no-go for the educated class, and even more so for women, it is very important to create a secure environment for the encouragement of female political aspirants. It is beyond the structure of natural genders, and must be treated as such. Every individual must be given the opportunity to excel as per their potential. What’s more becoming is for the incumbent government that once rode on the feminist agenda, to inculcate these principles administratively, and immediately.

For PTI to engulf itself into the same kind of atrocities means that the future of the Pakistani women is blighted with uncertainties. This was the organisation that vowed to provide equal opportunities. The fundamentals upon which its engravings hang, specifically catered to justice, equality and self-esteem. If PTI is observed to allow such casual forms of sexism, it is inevitable for it to fall into the same abyss where its predecessors faced collapse.

Where there is only darkness, doom and despair, a fate lying on opposite scales from that promised, PTI has little room but to budge and make way. Since it is now the 21st century, and enlightenment is finally rummaging the minds of numerous Pakistanis. Such foul language, behaviour and gestures are no longer tolerable. In these times, these engagements will only be blackened by the viciousness of shame and shudders. For Pakistan is finally rising, and in so, will rise the women, the men and the status of our unsung humanity.

Oroba Tasnim

Oroba Tasnim

A visionary donning idealism, a revolutionary seeking reprieve. She tweets @OrobaTasnim (twitter.com/OrobaTasnim)

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

  • Al Bhat

    So in naya pakistan men were suppose to go to the kitchen?Recommend

  • UJ

    A very biased article without any context to what prompted him to say that. The lady was just provoking him throughout without any substantial comments on the issue at hand. Even though I don’t support his statement, it is wrong to distort what really transpired.Recommend

  • ali

    It’s the women who like to seek refuge in men , not the other way around.Recommend

  • Greywolf

    the action(s) of one or two individuals do not define a group. this is precisely what the west does to muslims who commit acts of terrorism. we cannot fall for this trap. completely silly. faisal vawda is a shady guy but to assign him as the idea of what PTI wishes to be is plain ignorant.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Why not, after all best chefs in 5,6,7 star hotels are men. Most of the Michelin star chefs are also men.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    If she was provoking and he got provoked then he fell into the trap. Don’t you think so?Recommend

  • Humza

    Who ever said men have to go to the kitchen or did you make that up the way Imran Khan makes up things? What people want is a fair playing field for everyone, men and women alike. Sadly this is not possible when the leader of the PTI is himself set in misogynistic ways when he wants women to stay home instead of following their own path. If a women chooses to stay home and be a home maker, it is a noble profession but no one should force her to stay home or shame her to stay home which is the conventional PTI wisdom. When you don’t empower half of the population, namely women and make them feel 2 nd class, people are starting to see Naya Pakistan is actually worse than Purana Pakistan under Imran Khan.Recommend

  • Humza

    So if someone is supposedly provoking you, you can say ignorant things about women ? Are not educated people able to respond appropriately, especially when you are an elected representative? He doesn’t care about the half of his citizens who are women? That’s PTI philosophy?Recommend

  • Humza

    Forget about Faisal Vawdwa, Liaquat Hussain or other PTI walas who slap people on national TV, just focus on the leader of the PTI and his comments about women and feminism. If the head of the party has no respect for women, how can the rest of the party be any different?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Misogynist comments seems to be the hallmark of most male political party bigwigs…..with the exception of the PPP and possibly the MQM too.Recommend

  • vinsin

    What about TNT? Pakistan is not a secular but an Islamic state at the end of th day.Recommend

  • Sovereign

    Negative comments about feminism are not indicative of misogyny.

    That’s like saying that if you criticize communism, then you must hate the poor. There is plenty of deserved criticism and dismissal of communism and feminism both.

    Feminism needs to stop branding all criticism of its hateful ideology as misogyny.Recommend

  • Greywolf

    agree +1. there are many feminist positions and arguments that are flatly illogical, some extremely dangerous. i do not support feminists nor do i have sympathy for their worldview. IK may have made some bad arguments and said nonsensical things. i have not ever been a supporter of PTI. i just call it like i see it.Recommend

  • Patwari

    You don’t remember the Sindh assembly female member who was threatening to
    set herself on fire in front of the Assembly House? Because she was called a prostitute
    and other names by a PPP jiyala,…just last year.Recommend

  • Patwari

    sterry, keep beating your fake drums. Nawaz ain’t getting elected again.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, leaders of PML-N, plain and simple, order massacres of unarmed citizens.
    Remember Model Town Massacre? 17 people, including one pregnant woman, shot dead, on, higher authorities orders.Recommend

  • Patwari

    sterry, if there is a cyclone/typhoon in the Arabian Sea, and wipes out some islands
    and coastal communities, you would blame Imran Khan and Naya Pakistan.
    At least, the man is doing his best to fix things that the likes of PML-N and PPP
    took decades to destroy with their looting and plunder and rampant corruption.Recommend

  • Humza

    You will never understand that a functioning democracy means holding people to account for their words and actions. Also pointing out the errors and misdeeds of an elected government. This is called patriotism and people in the same country can support different parties but still be citizens of the same land. tell me, in India do you support BJP or Congress and does it make you any less Indian? You can talk all you want about the last 70 years of military and civilian rule and the different dictators and elected PMs who have assumed office but that does not mean that Imran Khan deserves a free ride any more than Modi deserves a free ride. I know you think that Trump also deserves a free ride in the US since he also claims he is cleaning the swamp of corruption in Washington but at least Americans are smart enough to understand empty talk for what it is apart from rabid Trump supporters.Recommend

  • Humza

    Nawaz Sharif’s time is up and it is unlikely that he will be elected again but that does not mean you should blindly worship Imran Khan or Bilawal Bhutto or any other leader without critiquing policies, plans and words. Even in India, there are voices that question the policies of Modi sarkar despite the blind worship he gets from his supportersRecommend

  • Patwari

    “Americans are smart enough” are you implying Pakistanis are not smart?
    Well, er, see, hmm, again, in true democratic spirit, lets start out with holding Darbari Nawaz and his family accountable, first. Then the ex El Presidente, ooops! Ex King of Sindh, ooops! Ex King of Garhi Khuda Baksh, ooops! Would that be Larkana? Dadu? Sukkur? Hala? Jam Shoro?
    There will be no NRO this time. None. It’s Adiala Hilton.
    Since you have now become a believer in true democracy, they can start Nawaz, then his daughter, then the two absconding sons with dual citizenships, [British/Pakistani, since they did not renounce their Pak citizenship, they can be brought back in chains to face accountability in Pakland] immediately. Urgently. Pronto.] That includes samdhi, Dar, ex finance minister. He has dual citizenship too.
    That will be a big, huge, family, sharing the bench, ooops! The docket, at the Supreme Court.Recommend

  • Patwari

    “…unlikely Nawaz will be elected again” aahh,…see, there is still a little spark of hope in your mind, about Nawaz sitting on the throne again.
    Nope, nada, nyet, nahein, no, nabu nabu,…that will happen only when a snowball freezes in Hades, that’s a Greek word.Recommend

  • Muhammed Salim Rehmani

    Instead of rubbishing everything just be part of change and fpressurise IK to fulfill committment.Recommend