Bar women from voting…

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  • If you cannot give them respect!

Respect is all what we need. Respect is all what we have ever asked for. And respect is what the world could not give us. Eyeing feminism as a movement of inclusivity rather than exclusivity changes one’s perspective about harvesting due rights out of the whole deal or just limiting its purpose to bagging a bunch of privileges and that, too, for a specific societal class. Fighting for respect is a much bigger and noble cause. Had it not been the case, denying this fundamental right would not have been a norm.

If you cannot give us, the nearly-half of Pakistan’s population, respect then you may as well take away all other entitlements that you have endowed on us in the name of awarding us our rights. What is ‘right to vote’ in front of the one that enables you to stand in front of the world with confidence and courage? Is the latter too much to ask for? Should the former be granted only at the cost of earning ridiculing remarks from leading politicians?

“The women who attended the rally were not from honourable families as their dance moves implied where they had actually come from.” Where had they come from? Come on, say the name of the locality from where they had come. There is no shame in taking its name, is it? There is surely no shame for men even in going there, isn’t it? And how does our most respectable and honourable politician know these women belonged to ‘that’ area? By their ‘thumkas’? What about the bhangras of your workers that never cease to the please our eyes in every jalsa? Why that is not shameful at all and why is it deemed as celebration rather than something dishonourable? When will the misogynist mindset that associates honour and prestige with women cease to exist? After examining the track record of this specific politician and his compeers, this seems to be a distant dream.

Had it been the ruling party’s jalsa and had its female party workers performed similar ‘thumkas’, it would have surely been amounted to a mere mark of jubilation

A lot has been said and written on who keeps these dishonourable localities alive and who let these markets flourish, then why not criticise such eyes and such minds that cannot look beyond this horizon and become open to the idea of equal participation of women in politics? Had it been the ruling party’s jalsa and had its female party workers performed similar ‘thumkas’, it would have surely been amounted to a mere mark of jubilation.

Respected politician, the reason why your honourable party’s leader highly adored daughter so easily addresses public assemblages today, despite the historic below-the-belt remarks given by you back in the ‘90s, is because of the space that Benazir Bhutto earned during her time for all female politicians to come. It is because of the backlash she then endured from politicians of your like that you have female workers and leaders in your party today. The PTI you are blaming for polluting an honourable crowd with ‘dishonourable women from those areas’ is actually the one who convinced many households to register their women’s identity before 2013 elections, and because of which you proudly include the word ‘behnon (sisters)’ along with ‘bhaion (brothers)’ in your speeches.

The counter-argument presented by the honourable politician is even more interesting than the initial remarks. “I will apologise only if Imran Khan surrenders his BlackBerry phone over Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations,” he aptly mentioned in a video statement on Tuesday. Justifying one misogynist act through another and fixing on a party’s female workers and providing a rationale for it by mentioning the party’s leader’s misdeeds is equivalent to the practice of revenge rape that is still exercised in backward areas of Pakistan. What Imran Khan allegedly did is equally shameful and dishonourable as what you actually said. It is better to discern the fine line of morality that exists in politics before any female from your quarters is made a target of misogyny.

The first wave of feminism, the point from where it all started and that persisted till early 20th century, focused on legal issues, primarily on gaining the right to vote. Political suffrage was the only way to ensure equal participation of women in all realms of politics, the first step of the ladder being the right to vote and the last step to shatter down the glass ceiling and lead the nation.

Men can dance on party anthems routinely played in political assemblages and women cannot is a similar notion to men can vote but women cannot. At times the society seems to have improved in this regard, but the troubling thought of moving in reverse gear immediately creeps in. What if this is not progression but regression? What if a day comes when women will be barred from voting yet again? Is it not better to surrender suffrage if it comes without respect and honour? May be then will men realise the importance of including women’s opinion in politics and other domains and give us what we demand – respect.