So a woman stood up for her right and spoke about work place harassment, probably hoping to get justice, but instead of support, she receives massive unhealthy criticism. Am I surprised? No. This isn’t something new, but of course I am confused at how to react at the news. There are so many contradictions, so many questions.
I have never been an avid lover of politics and I support no one; neither PTI or PML-N. However, I do respect Imran Khan, not because of who he is as a political leader now but because of who he used to be: a famed personality and a cricket legend. It might be true that this is a “political stunt” because yes, the timing is confusing and she has not provided what we can call an “evidence” to shut up the media as yet.
But why did we start shaming her instead of hearing her out? Regarding people who talked about her “character”, what proof did they have? I agree that there might have been cases where women used their position in the society to malign men but it’s genuinely rare. The matter needed serious investigation and not slut shaming or discouragement for other women to speak up in similar cases.
It takes a lot of courage to speak about a matter like this, especially when you know there won’t be a lot of people out there who will believe you and support you. Some die hard PTI fans have considered it their sole right to talk about Ayesha in any uncouth manner they wish.
“I wish someone throws acid on Ayesha Gulalai’s face”
“Issi kou messages bhejnaey thay Imran Khan ney?”
“Shakal dekhi hai iss ki?”
Sexist jokes, memes and ridiculous remarks were all over the internet and it just doesn’t seem fair. This isn’t about Ayesha and I am not supporting her but dear brothers,are you suggesting that onlythose women with extraordinarily beautiful facial features orcomplexion face harassment? I don’t understand why the idea that a common mancan have desires and can do anything like this is so unbelievable? No one is perfect and a little beast lives inside each one of us. Lust is inevitable, out of one’s hands and nothing surprising. Hearing stories about lewd behavior by co-workers should not so hard to believe by now. Someone who is privileged and is in power, probably never even considers the idea that a woman working under him would ever dare to speak up. I am not saying this in reference to Imran Khan but in reference to workplace harassers in general.
PTI’s spokesman Fawad Chaudhry spoke to Neo News saying, “thore thore paisoun key loug hotey hain … Aik raat unkou jou ahmiyat milni thi mil gayi.” He added “In jese loug, jou chaar paisey ley ker bik jatey hain”. I am not saying that I totally believe in what Ayesha claims but even if all of this was a false accusation, this is not an educated way to speak about a woman, or any another human being on national TV. He talked low of her morality, he talked low of her sister playing a sport (her dressing, mainly) and he almost humiliated her family on following or not following Pakhtun traditions. “Thore thore paisoun key loug…” let that sink in.
What bewildered me is how some women spoke of Ayesha. Reading comments under a post, I found a comment saying “She is a loose character woman. Biki huwi third class koi deen iman nahin and no quality at all to attract any one rubbish all sirf ticket na milne ko itna gir sakta hai barey hi sharam ki baat hai but us main sharam hi kahan hain. Hypocrite women, shame on you.” I know women do not like always like each other (I am guilty of this too) but the use of such strong words astonished me.
This comment was written by a lady, a graduate from University of Karachi. Wow. I am still trying to absorb the words. Women publicly speaking so low of their fellow sisters is gut wrenching. She must love Imran Khan way too much to talk about another women’s character like this, without giving a second thought. Not supporting Ayesha is one thing but speaking low of her character and turning into a moral police is another.
And why were people shaming her sister who had nothing to do with this?Her pictures that were circulating on the internet were nothing but disturbing. Why was she being a victim of cyber harassment when none of this was her crime? Why were fingers being pointed at her? Imagine being punished in form of receiving slut-shaming for someone else’s offense. If our religion gives us a dress code to abide by, it also gives us instructions to respect others instead of sabotaging them or interfering in their personal matters.
I’m still a student but let me clearly state that amidst my internships, I have witnessed harassment, not just at workplace but on roads and in school. Once I tried writing about it in an ordinary blog post to which a woman responded by saying that I am too young to say this and that someone “needs to talk to this girl instead of publishing her work”. I spoke up about an unfair treatment and someone concluded that I needed counseling. What a way to show your support!
Even then, I hope the clear cut truth in Ayesha Gulalai’s case comes out soon for all of us to see.