RJ and actor Anoushey Ashraf is very vocal when it comes to talking about what she believes is right. Engaging in a very honest conversation with comedian Ali Gul Pir, she opened up about her experience with a stalker on his podcast. The discussion delved deeper into the matter and the two friends discussed abuse allegations by women and how men need to take accountability for their actions.
The latest episode of AGP Podcast dropped on Tuesday. When the discussion moved towards discussing online trolls and haters, Gul Pir mentioned that Ashraf has had a real-life stalker. “It was very very scary because I had to cut an FIR but there was no other choice. Here, I feel like, you just hear [about it] but it can happen to anyone,” she said. “Somebody killed somebody, somebody got offended and threw acid at somebody or kidnapped somebody. Far and few but it’s not like it doesn’t happen. Why do we feel like it might not have happened to someone with influence?”
Repeating that it can happen to anyone, the RJ said she also told the guy’s family after filing the FIR. “That too, after [giving him] four chances and they were ‘very sad’. They were like don’t do this but I wasn’t doing it for myself. I could have kept a guard or since I’m from a TV channel, I could have requested security. I was like, he’s not going to do this to me, he will be rid of me but what if tomorrow he does to some other girl?”
She talked about how those women would not be able to fight back. “And they’re not able to do anything about it — they get harassed in buses, in stores, in salons. They can’t stand up for themselves and no one takes them seriously. Many of their family members blame them for getting harassed or stalked, [saying] that you smiled at them — that’s what the guy said to the police guy. He asked him, ‘Why are you bothering Anoushey?’ He was like, ‘She got off stage and smiled at me so I thought she likes me.’”
Ashraf addressed the fact that women who speak up often face victim blaming. “And if I say this, maybe people in your show’s comment section will say when you dress like this and meet men like this, what do you [expect]? My case dies right there. They can stalk me, be a threat to my life but how is it their fault when I’m the one sitting here enticing them. Where do I go then?”
She also talked about the difficult position one can be in when someone close to them is accused of harassment. “It’s difficult, I get it. Someone can even blame your brother or your friend — and that has happened to me, I have felt a lot of pain and have faced difficulty in navigating [the situation],” she shared. “But without naming anyone, I’d like to say that the topic being discussed is bigger than any individual, if one per cent of the women are exaggerating the story, I’m not even saying lying ‘cause they’re not lying but if they’re even exaggerating the story, 99 per cent is the truth.”
Adding on to the point about believing women, she asked, “How can you deny it? You live in Pakistan, look around you. I’ve seen people beat up dogs. There are people who rape children in this country, why would they not hit women? The odds are too much in favour of the cause for you to not believe in the cause.”
She gave an example of her friend getting accused and explained how she would react. “If tomorrow someone says Ali Gul Pir did something and you’re friends with him, what will I do? I will have to listen to your side of the story and make my own decision, it’s very hard,” she told the comedian. “We just have to speak up in favour of the cause. That has happened with somebody who’s very close to me off television, some girl said and I spoke to him about it. And I was like ‘The least I can tell you to do in this situation is to come out publicly and apologise. Say that if I have ever harassed you or hurt you, please forgive me, I won’t be able to forgive myself for making you feel this way.’”
She also shared an experience of when she was on the other side of the argument. “Men react with ‘I have never done anything like this.’ This happened with me also when I confronted a friend and said I felt a certain way, [he said], ‘What do you want from me? I will take you to court.’ What would I want from you? I’m the one who will get badmouthed here if I tell people my friend harassed me.”
The two friends talked about the need for men to take accountability for their actions, whether they intentionally made someone uncomfortable or even if it was unintentional. Gul Pir said owning up to it is important instead of dismissing someone’s experience.