The smartest and dumbest social media posts on the Sharmeen Obaid 'harassment' controversy

The smartest and dumbest social media posts on the Sharmeen Obaid 'harassment' controversy

There are actually companies giving out employment offers online to men under investigation over harassment allegations
Updated 06 Nov, 2017

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy just can't seem to please Pakistanis.

Bringing two Oscars home didn't help and now, speaking up against inappropriate behavior and harassment ─ a complaint women in Pakistan are actively told to never register ─ landed her at the heart of a rather fierce social media debate.

Read: We need to change the conversation about Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Here's how.

Last week, the filmmaker shared on Twitter that her sister was taken to the emergency room at Aga Khan University Hospital and received a Facebook friend request the next day from the doctor who had examined her, an incident she termed as 'harassment'.

Since then, she has faced considerable backlash on social media, which is what we're guessing prompted her to release a statement about the whole fiasco yesterday.

While sifting through all the responses on Twitter and Facebook, we've come to realise that the internet is a scary echo chamber. But voices of reason also cropped up every now and then.

Here are some of the smartest AND dumbest reactions we spotted on social media:

1) Smartest: When a lawyer shed light on whether it was harassment

As everyone seemed to fixate on what the term means (or does not mean), a Pakistani lawyer Abira Ashfaq laid it out in very simple language: violating boundaries in a doctor-patient relationship is dangerous, and it could be interpreted as harassment under the Pakistani law.

"A Facebook request could be such a communication given the nature of the illness and the doctor-patient relationship. It must, in addition, create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."

Also, this:

See, it really wasn't that difficult.

2) Dumbest: when people thought it would be a great idea to spam Sharmeen Obaid with friend requests

Yep, they went there. Here's a Facebook event that was formed specifically to spam SOC with friend requests.

People rallied online to harass a woman only to prove she wasn't actually harassed.

The irony hurt our heads.

3) Smartest: when this man dropped some truth bombs about the medical profession

Pakistanis en masse, almost as if habitually, dismiss women's complaints; it threatens the patriarchal power structure that has worked in their favour for centuries. Women become their front line defenders, assuming that aligning themselves with their oppressors would help them survive.

So when a guy ─ a male health professional at that ─ spoke in support, some serious truth bombs were dropped:

Moiz ended his post with a powerful note to men in the profession, and said, "Do not pretend this doesn't happen."

4) Dumbest: when this clinic boasted it would hire a doctor who was under investigation

In a twisted bid to earn brownie points with the public, these businesses did what only companies in Pakistan would do: offer to hire an unnamed man who may be under investigation over claims of harassment and professional misconduct.

We just wanna ask: really? Reallllyyy? Do you really want to be known as the medical institution that hires doctors who may be under investigation for professional misconduct?

5) Smartest: when this guy broke down cyber harassment

This one's for all those cribbing about how it's just a friend request and she should have just ignored it.

And for all those saying that clubbing a friend request with harassment takes the focus off of real victims... we think telling someone how they should categorise a feeling at the hands of someone else's transgression is belittling harassment more than anything else.

6) Dumbest: when Hamza Ali Abbasi gave his two cents on the matter

Of course it was only a matter of time until the actor spoke up and as usual, it wasn't an argument rooted in logic.

Firstly, Sharmeen never said it was sexual harassment, just harassment. Yes, taken in context, you could imply that she meant the former but let's be really clear on the fact that she didn't say it.

Also, maybe men don't usually feel harassed by supposedly trivial things like Facebook friend requests because they're usually not the ones feeling vulnerable, online or offline. I don't know, just a thought.

7) Smartest: when this guy pointed out the obvious...

People were really fixating on the word sexual and taking it quite literally too. The friend request and comments on her sister's pictures came after a "very private examination".

Do you think that would feel platonic or professional? It's downright creepy and even if it isn't sexual harassment by your restrictive approach, it's still harassment, plain and simple.

Good to know some sanity has persevered.

8) Dumbest: when Shehryar Taseer actually believed this fake post was written by Sharmeen Obaid...

It was so obviously fake. Oh man, we're cringing on his behalf.

But okay, let's give him props for doing his homework, albeit late.

9) Smartest: this man telling other men how NOT to be creepy

Like he so eloquently put it: "Fareeda with a dislocated collar bone is in dire need of medical care not your 3rd class pick up lines."

Here's to better male allies.

10) Dumbest: this lady brainstorming ideas for Sharmeen Obaid's next

To answer her question, no, she probably won't because she's got her hands full with the horrific stuff that happens in our own backyard.

Plus, we bet even if she did, they'd just brand her a Pakistan hater and say she's shedding light on the ills of other societies and ignoring her own. She just can't win.

11) Smartest: when Ushna Shah urged you to look at the bigger picture

The actress highlights why something that people want to brush off as a mere friend request felt like such a violation of privacy.

Call it an abuse of power on Sharmeen's part all you want but try not to forget that both parties come from places of privilege in this scenario: Sharmeen and the doctor, who is evidently benefitting from male privilege. How else do you justify people defending a "father of four" reaching out to a patient in a totally inappropriate manner? Speaking of...

12) Dumbest: when people started using his kids as a shield for his unethical behaviour

Like being a father automatically absolves him of all accountability.

Let's stop making the perpetrator the victim, shall we?

All social media posts used in this article were public at the time of publishing


irfan Nov 01, 2017 04:18pm
It simply wasn't a harassment either. BUT you can do anything if you are an influential person (with Oscars under your belt) in Pakistan. Ultimately I would say it wasn't the doctor who harassed her sister but the other way around (i.e. the sisters harassed him by creating that hype). And eventually people harassed the sisters b/c of the karma reaction.
error Nov 01, 2017 04:20pm
very biased article.... the smartest are only who supported her... and dumb are the ones against...
Syed Faisal Ali Nov 01, 2017 04:26pm
After reading the whole article, it's obvious sending friend request is not a crime or it is? Maybe after examining her sister, when she left the doctor found that she's a sister of a celebrity. Maybe he sent request just with formal intentions. How do you know the intention of that doctor? Woman wants to walk beside Men but they start crying over such issues. I agree that there are men harassing women but you can't consider all men in same category. The media is confusing, sometimes the media criticize you for being narrow minded and sometime for open minded. Can't believe that she highlighted this issue and made headlines on the newspaper.
M.Sethi Nov 01, 2017 04:41pm
My question is that instead of a male doctor ,had a female doctor treated her sister and sent the facebook request,would that been seen in the same light, as it was because the doctor who sent the FB request was a male ?
MB Nov 01, 2017 04:41pm
love it!
Taimoor khan Nov 01, 2017 04:42pm
Yet everyone keep on beating around the bush and not talking about the real issue. Which is to drag Pakistan good name in this non sense. Crucify the doctor by all means, but keep Pakistan OUT of this, will you?
hASEENA Nov 01, 2017 04:48pm
This piece is so on point!
Shahab Nov 01, 2017 04:59pm
@error absolutely nailed it.
shoaib Nov 01, 2017 05:00pm
Celebrities live by controversies, nothing new.
Rajiv Nov 01, 2017 05:06pm
@M.Sethi. You raise a very good point. While I’m not sure what the complete story was but even if its just a friend request.. surely its still a violation of ethics. Having said that, dont think its fair losing his job. A rap on the knucles would have been enough. Plus the hospital needs to share the blame for lack of clear policy!
bahar Nov 01, 2017 05:07pm
Her tweet was condescending and totally in called for. She could have asked her sister why she added him and next to delete him immediately. But she chose to use social media and unleashed smear campaign against all male and Pakistan at large. This was very disgraceful and must be condemned in strongest possible terms.
SQ Nov 01, 2017 05:08pm
The apologists of the doctor's behavior are giving the most absurd arguments. A famous writer, writing for an Urdu website stated that she didn't take action against a boy who harassed her daughter in medical college because she didn't want to destoy his future! With educated women like her having this kind of mentality, how can you blame men of our society for being the way they are?
Imajes Nov 01, 2017 05:15pm
After much publicity why can't the Sharmeen & her sister pardon the doctor. and help reinstate him.
TA Nov 01, 2017 05:36pm
@SQ How about you enlighten us all as to what those absurd arguments are and what is your definition of absurd.
Akhan Nov 01, 2017 05:41pm
Wow reading this article was a treat of the day.. so let's face it Facebook is at fault.. or may be the invention of internet... or is it computers a bit of smartphones.. or could it be coming from electricity.. or in plan simple words our society moral and ethical values are lost in the sea.. well the silver lining here is we are talking about such taboo subjects on open form.. and not sliding it under the rug.. it takes lot of courage to speak up against the ills of society..
Usman Nov 01, 2017 06:01pm
Sharmeen Obaid agreed with her tweet that she chosen poor word of harassment rather than to rase issue but the fact is her poor chosen word lost doctor job. Who is responsible for it?
Rik,k-USA Nov 01, 2017 06:12pm
Was it a harassment on doctor's part, no. Unethical, definitely yes. Was his firing justified, absolutely yes. Why the controversy, because Sharmeen is a hated person who became famous by airing dirty laundry.
Shaheen S. Nov 01, 2017 06:42pm
@Taimoor khan 'Crucify the doctor by all means, but keep Pakistan OUT of this, will you?' you can't, because this is a very Pakistani phenomenon. In some countries, the doctor could lose his licence to practice medicine for such an act.
bILAL Nov 01, 2017 07:11pm
There are women that go through real sexual harassment that can have a dramatic impact on your self-esteem, confidence, and perception of your self-worth. Sharmeen's sister did not have to go through any of that. A friend request was sent to her, and it could have been rejected. There is nothing serious about someone sending a friend request to another person. That is not sexual harassment. This nation will keep boys from becoming men if they don't clarify the boundaries of sexual harassment. Boys are girls are supposed to flirt. There is a magic in flirting. Girls and women enjoy flirting as much as boys and men do. There is nothing more magical for a women then to feel wanted by the man of their dreams. Boys, there is a way to let girls know you like them with honor and with respect. Adopt those ways. Be clear with your intentions. And if she rejects you, don't chase her. Move on. But if you like a girl, let her know about it in an honorable way. She will appreciate it.
Tango Tango Nov 01, 2017 07:47pm
Use Facebook's privacy feature so that strangers cannot get to see your pictures and comment. Or was the friends requested accepted and then the comments not liked? He should not have tried to friend a patient and she should have kept her account more private. And Big sis ought to stick to making movies and stop acting holier than the pope. This is one friend request that will take very long to delete. Feel bad for the little sis under the big sis's shadow.
abdul Nov 01, 2017 08:02pm
@Syed Faisal Ali I agree
Faraz Nov 01, 2017 09:01pm
@Rik,k-USA Was there any disclosure of information? No Was there any breach of patient doctor confidentiality? No was it illegal? No Tweeting about it, getting world's attention is something of her forte now.. if you ask me I feel like the doctor was bullied. A simple taking matters to the authorities would have done the job, but no...
Umair bin abid Nov 01, 2017 11:43pm
Thanks a man according to his rank. When a person commits rape and is sentenced to death, it is the violation of human rights and this punishment is very big they say and here is the case of harassment.
bela badmaash Nov 02, 2017 12:16am
Easily the dumbest article on this issue.
Genie Nov 02, 2017 01:04am
Loved the article. Felt relieved to read that there are still some sane and logical people in pakistan. Thank you dawn!
waqas Nov 02, 2017 03:14am
@Shaheen S. Really ! for sending a facebook request . THis simply stupifd and illogical . FOr someone who has not read law or knows how the law works in the west, that was pretty dumb statement. Accusing someone for harrasemnt can cleary get you sued .
UA Nov 02, 2017 04:37am
My perspective is this. It was not sexual harassment. I wouldn't exactly call it harassment either, though. Unless the friend request was made repeatedly after being declined several times. But, it was certainly inappropriate on the part of the doctor to send a friend request to a patient and depending on past such actions, the hospital should take action against him.
Zx Nov 02, 2017 08:43am
Shermeen could have been more careful with her tweets and a little diplomatic in condemning the doctors conduct. After all, she has a record of exploiting only the dark side of Pakistan. Just by not handling this right, now the doctor is the good guy and this bias article is not going to help.
Wasif Nov 02, 2017 10:04am
Obsession with FB in particular and social media in general has made people completely mad. It is possible that this doctor did not even think about his act and just added her under his social media OCD. I've come across people who would needlessly add every person they know on their FB or LinkedIn without any reason. On the other hand, I find it difficult to rationalise the doctor's behaviour.
Samira Nov 02, 2017 10:08am
In a society like ours harassment is a term only used for females but what if a man has been harassed? I think if you are a celebrity then you must also be able to bear these sort of things because an ordinary girl also receives fb requests so if you are a well renowned person then you must tolerate all these things. On the other hand, I totally agree that women are being harassed by men in every walk of life but I don't think so that sending only a fb request should be counted as harassment.
syed f. hussaini Nov 02, 2017 10:13am
It is not clear her sister has decided not say anything about the issue on her own or she does not have SOC's permission to speak. Anyway, as the self-appointed protector and representative of her sister, SOC now has a cause celebre which can provide material for another documentary and possibly another Oscar. Then all this would be billed as pre-production publicity--free.
syed f. hussaini Nov 02, 2017 10:55am
The government is working hard to limit content on social media and to discourage online activity--activists disappear. This controversy provides an excuse to the government's agenda of monitoring and curbing online activity. A friend's request can be declined, any undesirable comments posted on a page can be deleted and the trespasser can be conveniently blocked off till eternity.
Pro Pakistani Nov 02, 2017 10:57am
The Doc should never have sent a friendship text at all . period It is unprofessional , Being the father of 4 kids does not give him this right
umar Nov 02, 2017 11:28am
So is this article is smart move or a dumb one. In writer opinion its a smartest move but actually it is just biased.
Sajid sajjad abbasi Nov 02, 2017 11:39am
This would be most expensive friendship request on part of the guy. Sharmeen actually raised a very sensitive and real issue. A medical practitioner should consider every patient a medical subject. The guy was in fact not following the code of conduct and professional ethics. If people like Sharmeen will not raise voice against the amoral behavior who will?
ABL Nov 02, 2017 12:17pm
Sending a FB friend request is like requesting someone to join u and his friends and family for a dinner. Its not dating!! Its just how the generation of this age define socialising. Besides, in the friends request, you have all the rights to reject, just like you can excuse yourself from attending the dinner. Please keep this simple!!The only good reason for AKU to fire the doctor is he violated the professional ethics of a doctor-patient relationship. In this age of communication, its OK, but by the organisational rules, you are fired. Sorry!
K F Khan Nov 02, 2017 03:30pm
I see no repitition or recurrence in the fruend request which is a necessary condition for harassment. The friend option was open to public for what reason? A simple refusal to accept followed by blocking woukd have sufficed. The arrogance is dripping from the words used by Chinoy making it even more disagreeable. I woykd have thought in her line work she would know better.
K F Khan Nov 02, 2017 03:50pm
I would not be surprised if her next Oscar movie is about harassment in Pakistan. Is she gathering material for it, or creating it. A personal story would fit nicely.
Uzma Nov 02, 2017 03:52pm
SOC is an attention seeker she deliberately throw comments about Pakistan" there are zero boundaries in Pakistan". Who the hell is she to portray her country like that on social media and relating it to the rest of the nation also. Did the same in her so called Oscar winning documentaries. I m not favoring the act of the doctor. There might be something inappropriate but why to beat the drum on twitter. Pakistan has given so much to her , Fame , wealth, recognition......... and look how she paid back. And please stop justifying her dumb comments.
akkan Nov 03, 2017 06:07pm
@M.Sethi - professional doctors must not be sending such requests, period.
AD Nov 07, 2017 12:52pm
very biased article
Ammarah Nov 08, 2017 03:54pm
@M.Sethi agree