Of Pakistani weddings and vulgar mujras

Old men stood up just to catch a better glimpse of the transgender person in a mere red bra and a mini skirt.

Javeria Khalid Petiwala November 09, 2012
“The highest happiness on earth is marriage.”  William Lyon Phelps

Last week, my sister and I attended a wedding. It was beautiful, well organised and we were enjoying ourselves thoroughly to the songs being sung by the singers sitting in front of the crowd. The couple being wed was seated on the front couch and their elated faces were evidence to their happiness.

When the song ended, I was taken aback by the sudden blaring of vulgar Indian item songs reverberating in my ears; looking up I was absolutely appalled to find a transgender person in a mere red bra and a mini skirt standing in front of the crowd, getting ready to dance.

The dance was clearly vulgar, offensive and unlike anything I had ever seen before. The transgender person approached the men in the audience in a very seductive manner, moving her fingers all over their faces. Old uncles, previously enjoying themselves on the sidelines, were now standing up just to catch a better glimpse of the dancer.

At that very moment, melancholy and disgust crept over me. There was a human being in front of me who had taken off most of her clothes to provide entertainment to the upper, richer, class and what saddened me more was the fact that the crowd wasn’t illiterate. In fact, it consisted of decent, wealthy, educated people who had gotten their degrees from respectable colleges abroad and here. These same people were ogling at this human being, all concepts of modesty and respect out the window.

Shouldn’t they have been distinguishing between right and wrong based on their level of education?

I turned around and to find a little girl, of no more than five, innocently watching live porn unfold in front of her. The girl’s mother, who sat beside her, was clearly enjoying the whole ordeal and made no effort to remove her daughter from the vicinity. Won’t this experience shatter the girl’s innocence or create a bad example in her impressionable age? She will learn from an early age that transgender people must be laughed at and must only be considered as an object of entertainment.

The obvious level of hypocrisy in this society still overwhelms me, and it was this hypocrisy that urged me to pick up my pen and write this article.

Over the past few months, I have come across extremely nasty comments on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook targeting Veena Malik, abusing her for stripping in public and not conforming to the norms of our society.

But what exactly are these people doing themselves?

Here I was, sitting in the ‘land of the pure’, before a semi-naked transgender person dancing to the beats of an item song. These people have hired an item dancer to entertain people at their wedding and are visibly are taking pleasure from the mujra. Sadly, these are also the same people who would be first in line to turn their heads the minute it is over and abuse the stripper on networking sites, having completely forgotten that they too were party to it.

They made another human being endure humiliation, by making her perform something she may not have wanted to, but did so owing to financial conditions. I couldn’t help but wonder what state of helplessness drove her to take up such a profession. Clearly, nobody wants to be treated as a material item - as someone who is just there to be ogled at.

A transgender person, commonly and insultingly, is known as a ‘hijra’ in Pakistan. They are stereotyped as sex workers, prostitutes, vulgar; unwanted and unneeded. While many transgender people are trying very hard to break away from these stereotypes working instead as tailors, maids and nannies, to earn a decent living, respectably, there are some who may not have that luxury of choice.

Now, some of you would argue that the organisers have the right to fulfil their desires at their wedding but I disagree when the point comes to publicly exposing and humiliating somebody, taking advantage of their helplessness.

My sister and I stood up and called for our driver to take us home from the wedding immediately. I refuse to be party to another human being's humiliation.

Read more by Javeria here.
Javeria Khalid Petiwala A student based in Karachi, an ardent debater, and a Master Chef fan, she loves writing and travelling.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Pamela | 11 years ago | Reply You tell a gripping tale. Nice work. i look forward to more your posts.
Noor Us Sabah | 11 years ago | Reply Can't believe this could be happening at a literate Pakistani's home!
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