Ali Gul Pir might make us chuckle every now and then, but the comic has never shied away from striking serious yet uncomfortable conversations. In a recent tête-à-tête with PR mogul Frieha Altaf, the singer recalled his traumatic childhood, upbringing in an abusive home and the consequent trauma he had faced.
Growing up in an abusive home
Talking about his traumatic childhood, Ali revealed living through domestic violence and how it reflected in his work. "You can see why I pick up these topics because there is a very personal reason," the comedian shared. "I started talking about these things [abuse, domestic violence] before it was cool to be feminist. In 2012, nobody was talking about these issues. But I have been doing it [talking about sensitive topics] because of my own personal experiences and trauma that I have been through."
Sharing details about his abuse, Ali added, "I'm not sure if my brother had similar experiences but I know my mom and I went through it. That is just something [I still deal with]. I still go to therapy. It's been seven, eight years and I have been dealing with it since."
Ali on being sexually abused
Frieha then added, "But domestic violence isn't just limited to spouses, right? The children are involved in it. In our culture, violence has been rather normalised; which isn't how it should be. Maybe that's why there have been so many cases [of abuse] as of late. We also spoke about child sexual abuse, you had raised your voice [about that] as well. You know the ordeal [of being sexually abused] I have gone through in my childhood. I could relate to you because I was very rebellious when I was growing up as well."
Ali intervened at this point and commented, "But my abuse was similar to yours. It wasn't at the hands of my parents but I feel these things are very important to talk about. It took you how long to talk about it [your abuse]?" Frieha responded, "34 years."
Ali continued, "I'm getting there. I am not there yet but I am working hard to get there [to talk about it]." He further shared, "One of the main issues is that worldwide, we talk about girls being sexually abused. However, in Pakistan, we see a staggering number of cases of boys being violated sexually. There's easy access. Their [abusers] rationale is that abusing women is Zina but if it's with men, then it's forgiven. This is very messed up. The street kids, the boys we see at bus stations, in villages – the abuse is very common. Bacha Baazi, as we call it – it's a big issue."
Frieha added how in most instances, the abuse cases of boys are never even reported. "It is considered normal – especially in our northern areas. They don't talk about it; elites – particularly – don't talk about it. They are so worried about their reputation, and the family name; to them, that matters more. 90% don't just address it [the cases]."
Frieha then remarked how we have just started paying heed to domestic violence thanks to social media. "But even in that, we blame victims," Ali interjected while citing some examples of how victim-blaming narrows down to "she was wearing provocative clothes; this was bound to happen; you're getting married, you should endure whatever need be; you should compromise."
Talking further, Ali commented how even with today's cancel culture, we have actors who are still celebrated even when they are accused of being very similar to the characters they essay onscreen. "They're still getting more projects… they still could be seen in several dramas. I mean, we can put up a status, but we can't walk the talk," he added.
Of defamation notices
The duo then spoke about a certain defamation case that has been ongoing for the last two and a half years. "You are one of those people who have had [defamation] cases filed against you. We'll come to that as well. We raised our voices against an alleged sexual harasser. You actually had a lawsuit against you." Ali, at this point, chuckled and added, "That is still ongoing! [It's been] two and a half years. There have been arrest warrants [against me] as well."
Frieha then shared, "But this is something very serious. You have been very brave to actually fight it. But then you went on and made a whole song about it." Ali quipped, "If we are to fight, then let's just do it properly”. Frieha, while laughing at his response, replied, "Yes, it was called something, something ki mout." Ali added, "Channo Ki Mout!"
The former supermodel concurred and lauded the comedian. "That is just so brave. I don't know what was the reaction to that [song]. There has been so much division in our culture. I believe that if you are a victim or a survivor, you are [still sometimes] denying it [abuse victims endure]! Mostly it is because you don't want to accept the truth."
Ali then shared, "Because it is easier to just live in denial. It's hard to face it [the aftermath of being abused]. The shame the victims carry even though they shouldn't. It's hard work; it's easier to just pop a pill, smoke a joint or drink and forget."
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