When desi women are out biking on the streets, why is their act not received with the same encouragement, but is instead hounded with shame?
When desi women are out biking on the streets, why is their act not received with the same encouragement, but is instead hounded with shame?

When it comes to stepping out in public, do we apply different standards to desi women versus foreign women?

A conversation on Twitter seems to point to 'yes'.

When US blogger Cynthia Ritchie was snapped riding a bike on the streets of Peshawar Pakistanis on social media were quick to hail her a hero for depicting a softer side of Pakistan.

Cynthia's travel blog documents her travels in Pakistan and her latest venture was met with love and admiration by the locals, but it begs the question: when desi women are out biking on the streets, why is their act not received with the same encouragement, but is instead hounded with shame?

Girls at Dhabbas, who host all-women bike rallies across Pakistan to encourage women to repossess accessibility of streets and public spaces, pointed out the hypocrisy - with evidence - to prove that if a foreigner does it, it's lauded but if desi women do it the act is considered morally outrageous.

They posted screenshots of desi men showing contempt and disapproval at women riding bikes at their rallies.

vs a foreigner doing the same in our country.

It only goes to show that some desi folks - including men, but women too - feel threatened by Pakistani women fighting for equal rights and reclaiming public spaces because they have an inherent fear of losing "control" over their women. They want them to conform to the standards they've set for them.

Unfortunately, this is a recurring issue and points out our country's internalised sexism. Earlier this year, a backlash against the women's march took place across Pakistan when a vast number of Pakistani men were emotional wrecks over a poster which read: Khud khana garam karlo.

It's about time we called out the hypocrisy and also urged Pakistani women to conquer public spaces without fear.

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