Thursday, July 28 2016, 06:06:57
  • fatasstic
  • fatasstic
  • She Says

Pakistani Feminists Share Their Views On Qandeel Baloch

  • JWB Post
  •  July 23, 2016


Qandeel Baloch was recently murdered by her brother in Pakistan. Her death resulted in mixed emotions from Pakistan. While for some, it reignited the fire against Honor Killing, many celebrated as they didn’t approve of her lifestyle.

Some Pakistani Feminists thoughts differently about the murder of Qandeel Baloch, and shared their thoughts on social media:

Baloch’s murder divided the Pakistani community. While many people mourned, some celebrated her killing, including women who blamed her death on her sexualized persona.

“I was so disappointed to see many emancipated and independent women distance themselves from Qandeel, calling her ‘vulgar,’ ‘cheap,’ ‘immoral’ and even a ‘prostitute.’ Qandeel was so free, confident, and self-aware that maybe many felt a pang of jealousy — in our culture, women are robbed of speaking their minds. We’ve internalized patriarchy and have found justifications in culture, societal norms, and religion.”
—Meera Ghani
“The reaction proves that most people still believe a woman in control of her sexuality is a dangerous woman and therefore deserves abuse and harassment. Aside from indulging in victim-blaming, women were accusing Qandeel of ‘destroying their homes.’ Or they’d bring up the ‘good woman vs. bad woman’ narrative to explain how she had it coming as if any kind of behavior justifies murder. It’s a coping mechanism.”
—Sadia Khatri

The celebratory reactions from some weren’t a complete shock, as Pakistani women are often targets for “violence and abuse,” including those in the public spotlight.

“For every one person who is tweeting against her murder, you will find another 20 who are basically saying she brought it on herself. Nothing seems to shock us anymore. A recent news piece about a man’s limbs being chopped for ‘honor’ was found to be amusing by many Pakistanis. We’re beyond watershed moments; it’s like nothing affects us at all.”
—Luavut Zahid

“Qandeel’s large social media following and celebrity status belie the hypocrisy of the patriarchal institutions whereby women’s bodies are both fetishized and visually consumed, and at the same time propped up as easy targets for violence and abuse because of this visibility.”
—Sonia Qadir

Although Pakistani feminists responded to Baloch’s murder with horror, some of them still said they didn’t approve of her lifestyle.

“Feminists responded with horror and condemnation. Beyond that, however, there has unfortunately been some qualifiers. While there has been condemnation across the board from many self-identified feminists, some of the public statements that have been made will be prefaced by variations on ‘I didn’t agree with her/her lifestyle/her image, but…,’ ‘She was no role model, but…’ — as if to qualify their support by indicating a form of ‘love/support the sinner, but hate the sin.’ This has not been the case for everyone, and this sometimes splits along age and class lines.”
—Nighat Dad

Baloch’s murder was not an “honor killing” – it was gender violence, and all too commonplace.

“Honor killing has become a buzzword. This is femicide, and we need to shift our rhetoric away from honor to a more nuanced analysis. In this case, the state has declared this murder a crime against the state, not just Qandeel’s family. If Qandeel’s family is the aggrieved, then there is genuine fear her elderly father will be pressured or threatened into forgiving his sons.
—Nabiha Meher Shaikh

“The recent murder of Qandeel is a horrific act, but it is far from isolated. It is a sad reality that women all over Pakistan are regularly targeted by their own families as well as society at large, for daring to express themselves or challenge decisions regarding their own lives. Talk of ‘honor’ in this context though is a red herring – it serves only to obfuscate the brutalization of women’s bodies.”
—Sonia Qadir

The international media get it wrong when they say “honor killings” happen because of religion.

“I think the biggest misunderstanding in the international media is pinning these murders on religion and religion alone. Toxic masculinity always gets a free pass whether it’s in Pakistan or anywhere else. And violence against women is given the cover of tradition, values, and religion while it’s all to do with privilege and power being challenged, especially that of the male population.”
—Meera Ghani

Pakistan still has many hurdles in its fight for gender equality, and Baloch helped pave the way.

“Even though Pakistani has had a female prime minister — Benazir Bhutto — and women do have rights, in theory, the reality is that women still have to fight to get their voices heard. Much will be made of Qandeel Baloch being regarded as ‘provocative’ to certain parts of society, which garnered criticism. Yes, she was, but Qandeel Baloch used that to poke fun at the patriarchy and displayed the hypocritical morality pervasive amongst the media and religious clerics. She declared herself a feminist and spoke up for feminism loud and proud. And because she was bold and unashamed, she was killed.”
—Nighat Dad

“Qandeel’s brother may have been the one to kill her, but patriarchy as a whole slowly strangled her voice and her freedom.”
—Mehrbano Raja

Pakistan’s existing laws make it difficult to hold perpetrators of “honor killings” accountable.

“What the world should know is that we are a country with multiple parallel legal systems which create impunity. The world isn’t aware that we are equal citizens under the Pakistani constitution, yet the same constitution allows for sharia courts. The state also turns a blind eye to community justice systems which greatly disenfranchise women, such as jirgas. We’re in a mess for a reason, and this is why I’m skeptical of the state’s sudden ‘pro-women’ rhetoric. I fear it will reverse as soon as their image-building project is over and patriarchy will resurge.”
—Nabiha Meher Shaikh

“Perpetrators and inciters of violence against women are often forgiven because of loopholes in the law that permit compromise and weak investigation of cases, resulting in impunity for such crimes.”
—Sonia Qadir

Feminists in Pakistan partly blame the media for Baloch’s death: Many outlets released personal details about her life when she was already receiving death threats.

“I hope this jump-starts a much-needed conversation on journalistic ethics in Pakistan. In a place where getting away with violence, especially against women, is not at all difficult because of current laws, the media has a significant responsibility to self-regulate and be careful about the people they are reporting instead of treating them as profit-making things in their quest for ratings. Her personal details should never have been leaked.”
—Natasha Ansari

“The media in Pakistan probed deeply into her background and speculated how many times she married, how many men she must have slept with, and how this dishonors her family. We hope the hypocrisy of this society will be exposed, for the same people who followed her on social media are the ones now celebrating her death.”
—Mehrbano Raja

“People and institutions in Pakistan must be held accountable, especially the media, for their part not just in this murder, but in the murder of a thousand Qandeel Balochs.”
—Nighat Dad

Pakistani women are hopeful that Baloch’s murder will lead to a significant change in their society.

“We hope that at a personal level, people become cognizant of the serious implications of slut-shaming women. We hope that the brutal murder by her brother will gradually change the mindset of this society that a man’s honor and respect are dependent upon ‘their’ women. We hope this will lead to a gradual acceptance within Pakistani society of how many of us are ultimately responsible for Qandeel Baloch’s death. We are complicit for relentlessly shaming her rather than celebrating her independence and courage to be different in this society.”
—Mehrbano Raja

Women in Pakistan — and many elsewhere — are urging the world not to forget Baloch.

“The next step is to make sure that Qandeel will not be forgotten. Feminists in Pakistan must push for greater accountability from the media, from the government, from the patriarchy for her death and the deaths of thousands of Qandeels. Feminists in Pakistan must continue to shout loudly for change. We are already hoarse from shouting for change for decades, but each lost life brings more urgency to the fight.”
—Nighat Dad

“The one thing that we are sure of is that the wheels have started turning. There was a time I would have thought it impossible for anyone to rally behind someone like Qandeel. With Qandeel it was different. Sensibilities are changing, albeit very slowly. Qandeel had little money, was supporting her family, and got nothing but intense hate for what she did, but she continued moving forward. To say that she was a mere ‘celebrity’ is an injustice to her life and struggle. She was fast becoming an icon for many of us here — and that will not change even in death.”
—Luavut Zahid

This article first appeared on Buzzfeed.

Contact us for your story


Leave a Comment

  • JWB along with the brand Jewel Saga bring you a selfie contest inspired by the campaign AidToMaid.