Qandeel Baloch: A resilient soul who became this hypocritical society's ultimate troll

Qandeel Baloch never conformed to the acceptability of the people here. She did what she wanted to

When people have accepted the subservience of women performing in mujra parties and receiving all kinds of harassment, their hypocrisy majorly remains subliminal when they themselves abhor their female family members doing the same. They would dance at the whims of men. They would even be raped by men. And then they would be demonized for that. Their acceptable role has been nothing short of a misogynist mindset. And in this patriarchal setup, men feel threatened by free spirited women. They cannot conceive the idea that women have a right to enjoy her independence, self reliance and free will.  Where they take charge of woman’s body, be it their own wives, or sex workers, many Fauzia Azeems have always defied all that and never allowed anyone to  control her. I mean no offence, but if we recall, actress Veena Malik also had to face the malicious campaign against her for the liberties she took. But she was in our neighboring country where she could afford all that. However, it was only her “forgiveness’ and “repentance” that allowed her to be in her country again and regain her “respect”.

This is what Qandeel Baloch never accepted to conform herself to the acceptability of the people here. She did what she wanted to for herself. She was the one who took charge of her of her own  body, and never allowed anyone to exploit it.  Whether people condone her antics or not, but she had the way of bringing out the dark and sickening side of the society; something that irked the moral contractors here. She had earlier complained about threats she’s been receiving as a price to live in Pakistan. But she was never taken seriously. People ridiculed her by saying that she deserved receiving hate messages and death threats. She had faced all kinds of cyberbullying and harassment, but she ignored them. All this is not only about Qandeel Baloch. Indeed it is about the freedom for the women to chose what they want for themselves. While some people have - and still do - condemned her for her bold performances on social media, she was still resilient. No fear for life could stop her, which is something only someone as gutsy as she could do. You may not have to agree to everything she’s said or done, but you cannot deny the strong impression she left behind. It was as if it was her revenge against the society for how it treated her.

Born in 1990, this young woman belonged to a middle class family. Being married off at a tender age of 17, she claimed that she was subjected to abuse by her husband. She had a son from this marriage,  she got separated from him 7 years ago at the time of her divorce.  She lamented in one of her interviews that her son doesn’t even know who his mother was.

But she didn’t bow down or feel let down by people. Her revenge against the hypocritical society was by becoming their ultimate troll. As she rose to her popularity—rather notoriety, she became everybody’s subject to talk about. She also had some admirers who respected her individuality, rather than seeing her as a male propriety i.e as a wife, a mother, a sister. She revolted against patriarchal notion of laying sole responsibility on a woman for honor, and it is the very “hurt honor’ that  made her brother murder her in cold blood as well. People who say “there is no honor in killing women’ themselves need to see that honor has indeed been an integral  part of our culture. Whenever we try to insult another person, we retort to  the cuss words that implies disrespect of their female family members. Pick up a dictionary of cuss words, you will find that they are always women-centric. ‘teri maan ki yeh, teri behn ki woh...' (your mother this—your sister that). That’s not the case of one language, the derogatory words used in other languages center on abusing vulgarities against male by bringing in his female members. It is also noteworthy that there are almost no cuss words that are  male-centric, the closest male-centric insult to men would be a comment on his impotency or calling them eunuchs. Honor is never an individual enterprise in Pakistan, and where it is,  people punish themselves instead of others for bringing dishonor, like in Japan.

It is argued that the concept of honor has nothing to do with Islam, which is true as Islam has given the right to the women to chose for themselves in matters of marriage. However, religion has been mixed with tribal traditions where it re-endorses “male honor”. Even if people don’t go to the extremes to killing women for violation of their preconceived moral codes, but the concept of honor is universally the same here. Women get disowned or ostracized  for the “shame” they’ve brought upon them.

When people criticize the twisted definition of honor here, they get labeled viciously as propagating “vulgarity”, or working on “western agenda” to destroy their traditional family values. There have been many a talk about the Qisas and Diyat laws that allows for the family to forgive the assailant. The laws are genuinely criticized because it is usually the same family that forgives their family members committed honor-killings. Because of faulty laws, Pakistan witnesses men feeling proud of killing their “disgraced” family members. In fact, the laws enable the perpetrators to carry out these murders without any repercussion. This is our tragedy, no matter how many times the issue has been raised in the media and condemned, the crimes of honor can never be prevented for as long as  the laws of reconciliation and blood money is there. Last year, about 1,100 women had lost their lives because somebody’s honor got hurt by their making choices without their “approval”, and the numbers keeps on growing every year.

What happened to Qandeel Baloch is not an extraordinary story of honor killing. Strangled by her brother and involvement of family is not surprising for us. But what Qandeel Baloch did was iconic, and will always be remembered as such. People have loved and hated her for what she did or said, but she managed to expose the inherent hypocrisy in people. One such recent controversy was with Maulana Qavi, a member of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee from which he was expelled when Qandeel Baloch released her photos with this cleric. The grudge Maulana Qavi had against her has surfaced where he warned that others who ridicule clerics should will meet the same fate as that of Qaneel Baloch.

People will hardly understand who Qandeel Baloch really was. Though she used the same objectification of her body that the male centric societies do, but she used it as a way to expose the mockery of the chauvinists. Many of us may not take her as a role model, but at least we should see her as a woman who rebelled and defied all moral dictates. The conservatives are commending her death. They are justifying her murder. This is the crux of misogyny when people say “she deserved it”. No, there is no justification of murder. A murder is murder, no matter how one glorifies it.

“I believe I am a modern age feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of woman I should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for the sake of the society. I am just a woman with free thoughts, free mindset and I love the way I am”

- Qandeel Baloch

Rest in peace Fauzia Azeem. Rest in peace Qandeel Baloch. You were bold and it is your resilience, not your body, that has inspired many.

The writer is a freelance columnist.  Follow her on Twitter

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