In a country rampant with misogynistic values and blatant androcentrism, it really isn’t hard to imagine women being slut shamed and their characters assassinated every time they raise their voice. Ayesha Gulalai is an example of just this: a woman raising her voice against harassment only to be made into a social media joke.

This piece isn’t meant to side with one political ideology or to claim which of the parties is at fault. It is possible that Gulalai is lying, that too in times of political turmoil. It is possible that she really isn’t lying at all and IMMY boy is at fault. Can we, behind our laptop and phone screens, viewing a pixelated version of the story decide the truth?

“If nothing else works, just question her Izzat”

Despite the blatant issues with her speech and the timing of the conference, the main problem we wish to address is the way in which Gulalai’s claims have been dismissed. The Social media moral police have taken it upon themselves to call her all sorts of ridiculous, not to mention disgusting names, to question her ‘izzat’, and to circulate pictures of her sister playing squash in shorts. Why? Because her claims seem ridiculous so the only viable option left is to ridicule her face, her body, her language, and her womanhood of course.

“The handsome prince, Imran Khan can do no wrong?”

Some amongst us have justified their belief in the innocence of Imran Khan and the falsity of Gulalai’s claims because a man such as Imran Khan who has had a history with beautiful women such as Jemimah and Reham Khan would never go for someone who looks like her. While the logic of this argument is incredibly sound (note sarcasm), it just goes to show the depravity and lack of conscience of these very people.

Sadly, it wasn’t just PTI supporters and sympathizers that took it upon themselves to ridicule and question her honor; educated and respected politicians and journalists jumped on the bandwagon as well.
Mubashar Luqman, a noteworthy and respected journalist, invited Gulalai on his talk show only to interrupt her several times and ask her why it took her 4 years to speak up about texts that were offensive and derogatory. While that question seems relatively legitimate, the way in which he addressed her was incredibly problematic:

“Agar aap itni izzat daar hain tou aap nay 4 saal ye kyun bardasht kia?”
(If you are as honorable as you claim, why did you bear this for 4 years?)

Amir Liaqat  (despite the fact that no one should be taking anything he says seriously) spent a significant amount of time on his show speaking of Gulalai’s ancestral tribe and their history with violence and burglary, and sharing pictures of her sister getting a pedicure or a foot massage from a man (gasp!) and playing squash in shorts. This, oddly enough, was uttered in the same breath as him saying that one should not reveal the faults of others because God conceals these faults himself.


Hamid Mir’s tweets showed his interest in indulging in slut shaming an internationally awarded and revered squash player for wearing shorts.

The problem, however, was exacerbated by online trolls that incited violence against Gulalai.

This particular man has, since then, changed his twitter handle and locked his account, but the damage done is rather considerable. Others like him have claimed they wish to ‘tear her face off’ and urinate on her so she can ‘burn’ after she has been attacked by acid. When banter, criticism, and generally rude comments about someone become direct violent threats, the issue transcends the hassi mazaak of social media.
Needless to say, this should answer everyone’s questions as to why it takes so long for someone to come forward with harassment claims.
So going back to how I started this. If all of this isn’t all that hard to imagine, what’s the point of us whining about it?

The very same progressive PTI supporters that aim to eradicate corruption, crime, and all sorts of problems off the face of this country are to be seen degrading a woman’s character, her appearance, and her family’s honor. Most of the criticism hurled at Gulalai is not based on whether or not the timing of the conference or the way in which that conference panned out is problematic, but has more to do with whether or not she herself is izzatdaar, if her character is morally strong, or if she is a disgrace to the Pakhtun culture.

To simplify: you are right to question her and to ask her to prove this claim. You are right to suspect the timing of the conference. You are right to be cognizant of the political turmoil which serves as a backdrop for this entire ordeal. You are right to demand evidence.

That being said, there is a way to question someone and spreading pictures of the alleged victim’s sister playing squash in shorts in order to shame both the alleged victim and her family, ridiculing the alleged victim’s appearance, and threatening to burn her face off with acid is definitely not the way to go about!

Today’s moral lesson? If the naya Pakistan you wish to establish is based on slut shaming, degrading women, threatening their lives, and making obscene comments about them, it really isn’t all that naya.



This writer is a warrior princess-goddess.



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