Veena Malik: Scorned for being different

Independent women are scorned in Pakistan, a man's country, where women must always be answerable to men.

Huneeya Mazari April 10, 2012
Is a woman simply labeled a whore or a saint, a mother or a prostitute in Pakistan? It seems that having more than one dimension to her description is just not acceptable - it is a sad country for an an independent woman. People complain about feudalism and a system that favours patriarchal dominance, and yet today I see everyone around me acting like a feudal trying to force an opinion on a single woman again and again till she submits.

Veena Malik is controversy's favourite child, or so it seems. You either hate her, or love her, but nobody ever lets her be. Malik appeared on the famous, recently-back-from-the-ban, Nadia Khan show to again be judged by the panel of people. This included Khawar Riaz -  a friend we never saw before, who allegedly sold her pictures to a newspaper, giving rise to the speculation and saga of her long affair with Mohammad Asif.


All of them divulged details and enjoyed their two minutes of fame at her expense. Veena was questioned and grilled about honesty, of all things! The most interesting question asked was probably when, in the midst of her narrating her story about Ashmit Patel, Nadia Khan asked her how she could afford to be so honest when girls these days have to be careful and think about their long-term marriage prospects. Do girls need to be dishonest so that they can marry well? Even hypocrisy is rolling it's eyes at this prospect.

Here we have it; this is the price of honesty - scorn which Veena is getting in abundant amounts every second from our Pakistani society. If people believe that she is, indeed, punishable by whatever their imagination thinks her crime is, then what about their unbelievable language, abuse and disdain? She is a strong woman who is trying to earn a living and is scorned because she was born in a country where people who throw acid on their ex-wives are sitting respectably and unquestioned because they are men.

Pakistan is a country where women have to form separate queues in banks and government offices, not because they are more respected, but because they will probably be physically harassed if they have a uni-gender queue. This is a country where the names of rapists are never mentioned in newspapers, but the girl who is raped has her name advertised and repeated again and again in every column. Imagine the strength of a woman who is fighting against all these odds - imagine the courage of Veena Malik.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning celebrities. However, passing moral judgement and putting on a tone of mock astonishment and disgust is where I draw the line. I believe Nadia Khan tried her best to question Malik, but she had to ask some tough, pre-dictated questions. This is because that's what the general public wanted to hear. Most of them seem to be completely angered at any woman who tries to be unapologetically emancipated.

I am not one to form any opinion about Veena Malik, because I believe that like any human being, she has the right to live her life according her rule, and be an individual. The collectivist behaviour that society demands of people, especially girls, is extreme in Pakistan. The only reason people give Veena Malik such a hard time is because she dares to be different and she offers no apology for her deviance. As one of her ex-boyfriends, Babrik Shah, kept repeating,
Apni manmaani karna chahti thi.

(She only wanted to do as she pleased.)

So why is this a bad thing, I ask? Why is it so wrong for a girl to do what she wants? It is only scorned and hated in Pakistan because this is a man's country, where women must always be answerable to men.

The  psychologist who appeared on the show seemed to be more of a fortune-teller, as she formed vague opinions about stereotypical concepts regarding rebellion, when in fact I believe she should have enlightened the viewers and educated them in differences regarding personality, perception and thinking. Veena Malik is  an individual, and I think that the impassioned individuals criticising her like she is answerable to them is rather distasteful.

What are we teaching the next generation? From the tone of the show, it sounded like the obvious message is that it is okay to slander and curse a woman who dresses a certain way or is brutally honest. Thanks to this double standard, we are a nation of confused people. I am sick and tired of hearing religion as the excuse and tool to scare people into agreement.

I think we should let the female child breathe - we should let women be who they really want to be, so that we can have a country of diverse, critical thinkers. A nation that abuses its women will never get anywhere, and perhaps that’s where we are now.
Huneeya Mazari A former student of Lancaster university management, learning and leadership department and currently a business consultant based in London.
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