Reham responded to claims about changing her appearance for the sake of public image: "I wear a white chadar because that's the Pakhtun identity."
Reham responded to claims about changing her appearance for the sake of public image: "I wear a white chadar because that's the Pakhtun identity."

Between statements about misogyny and the need for gender empowerment in Pakistan, TV host and human rights activist Reham Khan fielded several questions about her 10-month marriage with her now ex-husband, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

Also read: Imran-Reham split up, and everyone has something to say about it

Speaking on the second day of the two-day India Today Conclave 2016 at the session, Line of Peace: Sisters Under the Skin Empowering Women across Borders, Reham plainly referred to her marriage as "a mistake", reports India Today:

"We all commit mistakes, and so did I. The world is changing, I did not marry each time for a certain status a man has. We might profess to be modern, but we still may not end up listening to the woman. One thing I'm really proud of is the way my son is raised, he's a 22-year-old boy who gives me immense pride."

Reham was joined on stage by actor/activist/politician Gul Panag and India Today's Simi Pasha, who moderated the session.

Drawing from her experience, Reham entreated women to always speak up. "There is one thing that binds us together, which is the 'hushed silence'. We hide the reality of our homes," she remarked. "Inequality, misogyny starts at home," she later added.

Reham further said, "I am a woman, I look like a woman, I behave like a woman. But people in Pakistan call me Dabangg like Sallu," referring to the iconic cop character played by Salman Khan in 2010.

Read more: Reham, Ayyan among most 'sought after' people in Pakistan

When asked about covering her head, she said her marriage with Imran Khan had nothing to do with her change in appearance:

"I loved meeting the real people of Pakistan, people in Balochistan, people in south Punjab. That is when I 'changed my appearance because I love wearing the chadar."

"I landed in Pakistan in December 2012, just for a few months to cover the elections. I went there for a personal reason to look after my mother after my father passed away. It was a gap year for me, I thought it'd be good for my CV, I was bored with my job [as] senior broadcast journalist for the BBC, I was coming home after a long shift and doing dishes in the darkness, and I just wanted excitement and boy, did I get it in Pakistan.

"What i loved in Pakistan is meeting the real people of Pakistan. I travelled through most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all the way to the border with Afghanistan and Balochistan and South Punjab. And I just like the way people dress up. I quite like the traditional chadar. I do that because it is the Pakistani identity, It's the Pakhtun identity to wear a white chadar. It has nothing to do with an appearance for people.

"My Identity is fluid, I feel more comfortable wearing a chadar, people communicate with me better. I sit on the floor and eat makai ki roti and sarson ka saag with them and they like it. Then when i talk to them, it is far easier for me to tell them how to improve their lifestyle.

"Gender empowerment is considered in isolation, unless we improve the per capita income for every man and woman and the future of every child in Pakistan and India. [Otherwise], we'll just be doing other seminars and workshops, and ticking the boxes. That's why I change my appearance, not because I married someone."

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