'It's time for women to stand as one': We wish Shireen Mazari would take her own advice

Published 10 Apr, 2021 04:28pm

Images Staff

Call people out when they're wrong, but don't ignore your government doing the same.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Women's clothes have become a hot topic these past few days and everyone, from our prime minister to our human rights minister, has an opinion.

Of course, while we weren't too pleased with Prime Minister Imran Khan's take, we have to applaud Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari for a tweet she posted about respecting women's choice of dress. But this is a story in two parts, and while we applaud her in part one, we're sighing in dismay in part two.

Part I

"Absolutely reject anyone, especially a woman, ridiculing or insulting any woman over choice of dress," she wrote on Twitter. "Arrogance to assume what another woman's idea of Pakistan may be! Muslim women are being denied their right to dress as they wish in Europe — let's not deny our women their right of dress choice."

She was replying to another tone deaf tweet by Sara Taseer — who wouldn't trust some women to choose what she has for lunch, let alone vote to elect the country's next leader. She tweeted a picture of women clad in burqas and captioned it 'Rejecting Pinky’s Pakistan'. She is, of course, referring to the First Lady, who chooses to wear a burqa.

Mazari, the outspoken minister, is very right in calling Taseer out. Ridiculing anyone over their choice of dress is a shameful and downright tacky thing to do, but we doubt what she said will get through to Taseer.

Many people in this country seem to have an obsession with the First Lady's clothes. They find them 'too much' and have even said on Twitter, that she could be an embarrassment for the country if she represented us abroad. But why do her clothes matter at all?

Lest we forget, feminism means allowing women to dress as they please. That means a woman has the right to wear a burqa just as much as she has the right to wear jeans. Making fun of the way someone chooses to dress, especially when it relates to their religious beliefs, is foolish, to say the least. Our national preoccupation with the First Lady's clothes has to stop. She has the right to wear what she wants, the same way we have the right to wear what we want.

Taseer's tweet comes days after France approved a bill that denies women below the age of 18 the right to wear a hijab. No matter what your religious inclinations are, it is wrong to deny someone the right to wear what they want.

We're very glad Mazari called Taseer out. We shouldn't be denying any women their right to dress as they choose.

Part II

Here comes the second part of this story, where the righteous minister then continues in a second tweet and says she has had enough of victim blaming/shaming. However, we noticed she was rather silent when the head of her government linked vulgarity to rape and the world called him out for it.

She didn't say anything about the premier's comments and how they too could be construed as victim blaming or how linking 'vulgarity' — however that might be defined — to rape oversimplifies the crime and gives rapists an out. It puts the burden of staying safe and away from 'tempted' men on the victims.

The usually very vocal minister turned a blind eye to the controversy, despite it being reported in the international press. But then, she has a poor track record when it comes to calling out her own government. We love you for how vocal you are, Minister, but we wish you used your voice to call out injustices and poor practices in your own ranks.

You can't have your cake and eat it, Ms Mazari. You can't call someone out for something your government has been guilty of and pretend that has nothing to do with you. And calling on law enforcers to enforce laws is laughable. You are the government. You have the power to do much more than tweet.

So yes, Shireen Mazari, it is time for women of all shades to stand as one. We have had enough of victim blaming/shaming, misogyny, GBV and child abuse. We're also sick of men gesticulating and using public spaces to relieve themselves (of their unwanted and unwarranted opinions). The laws are all there, law enforcers should do their job. Enough is enough.