April 20, 2018

When Meesha Shafi wasn’t hot enough to be harassed by Ali Zafar

Ali Zafar
Meesha Shafi called out Ali Zafar for sexual harassment, publicly — and all hell broke loose on Pakistani social media. The Twitterati had a meltdown, the social justice warriors went tapping away on their keyboards frantically, and the rest of us watched in amazement as those who we thought had some modicum of sanity, resorted to obscene objectification of Meesha Shafi to prove that Ali Zafar would never harass her.

The amount of social breakdown I saw in the aftermath of Meesha Shafi’s allegations has rendered me completely speechless. I knew there was a reaction to the feminism movement in Pakistan — I just didn’t know it’ll come out in such force. The number one objection to Meesha Shafi’s allegations was that she’s simply not good looking enough to be harassed. This was quickly followed by the more conventional “she’s a slut, so she was asking for it”  line of thinking that the Pakistani nation is accustomed to.

Now I am not going to go into the depravity of someone believing only “good looking” girls can be harassed, or the fact that most guys commenting on this tragedy today were of the opinion that being harassed is actually an honor that Meesha Shafi should quietly accept. No.

What I am going to go into is the fact that the vast majority of men and women are so biased in their assessments against victims, it should literally give you migraines. Pick any victims over the last 10 years. Mukhtaran Mai, was bullied and harassed on national TV by Mubasher Lucman in his show; to be followed by Pervez Musharraf saying she conveniently got herself raped to get foreign visas. Malala, shot in the head by Taliban, conveniently dismissed as a western agent, an actor, and questioned about how she’s alive after being shot in the head. Shazia Khalid, a doctor posted at Sui, raped by an army officer in the middle of the night, beaten and tortured, and then drugged by the medical staff who she had gone to ask for help. And then, she was put under house arrest. Then her husband’s grandfather asked her husband to divorce her for bringing dishonor to the family, and when the husband refused, the grandfather assembled a mob to kill her. Khadijah Shah, stabbed 23 times in broad daylight, who’s perpetrator’s father said in open court, in front of a judge, that he would leak her pictures if she didn’t back off. Her attacker was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Then it was reduced to 5 years. Then the judge himself asked Khadija to pardon the attacker.

How many men and women in this country believed the stories of these victims? These victims who’s stories are verifiable without any question? We still laugh at Mukhtaran Mai, dismiss Malala, have conveniently forgotten Shazia Khalid and have pushed Khadija to fend for herself in a society that will not rest until her attacker is free to torment her once more.

I have no love lost for either of the two individuals involved in this very public kerfuffle. I don’t know them. But some things do stand out to me. 1) No sane woman in this country called Pakistan would be stupid enough to willingly subject herself to the vitriol that is currently being directed at Meesha Shafi. 2) We have documented proof from Ali Zafar’s Twitter account that he is in fact, a sexist pig. 3) Since Meesha Shafi’s allegations against Ali Zafar, a bunch of other women have stepped forward to claim the exact same stuff as Meesha Shafi. 4) Meesha Shafi’s ignominious attitude aside, there really is never any justification for one human sexually harassing another human.

Ali Zafar says he’ll take Meesha Shafi to court. If I was Meesha Shafi’s lawyer, I would throw Ali Zafar’s Twitter account in his face, call the women who’ve called him out publicly as witnesses, and call it a day. But I’m not her lawyer. What I am, is a rational thinking human who thinks Ali Zafar crossed one too many lines. He’s rich, he’s famous, he’s handsome, and women probably don’t say no to him. And those that do, probably don’t go public with it. He probably tried the same with Meesha Shafi, and now he’s got his face plastered all over the Pakistani internet.

But he should fear nothing, because the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have convinced themselves that he would never do it because a) Meesha Shafi isn’t hot enough, b) Ali Zafar doesn’t look like the kind of person who would sexually harass another person, or c) it’d be an honor if Ali Zafar harassed them.

Meanwhile the rest of us are going to go stand in the corner with our hats in our hands thinking about the social breakdown that’s led us down this path.