You may not like her, I understand. You may have genuine reasons, I understand. But did many of us, like me, start hating her for reasons we did not take time to fully comprehend?
Veena Malik has been famous for all the wrong reasons for more than half a decade now. Ever since her appearance in Big Boss, the actress has been involved in a series of unfortunate incidents, been the bud of almost every joke and the most attacked celebrity to date. This article by no means aims to justify everything she did, she certainly was no saint. Rather the spotlight will be on us, the Pakistani population, were we unjust?
I grew up bashing Veena Malik purely because everyone in my school was doing it. I hadn’t watched any of her videos or kept up with her on big boss but hey, everyone said she was rotten so who was I to disagree? My opinion didn’t change for a long time, she’d constantly be on the news and I was indifferent but every time someone brought her up I’d jump onto the hate bandwagon. Recently a clip from an interview she did back in 2011 resurfaced and changed the way I saw her and those around me. I suggest you watch the video before continuing further.
‘Bohat khuch hai jis pey baat ki ja sakti hai. Sirf Veena Malik kyun? Kyun k Veena Malik aurat hai? Kyun k Veena Malik soft target hai aap k liye?’ was a line much ahead of its time. We all remember what happened to Qandeel Baloch, don’t we? She was killed for doing something internet’s latest sensation, Nasir Khan Jan, is in the early stages of. Why aren’t Pathans rising up together against him being an insult to ‘Pakhtoon pride’? Why are there no clerics giving impassioned speeches against him? Why is he still alive while she’s dead? Because she was a woman. You may not agree with what she did, and because of the universal right to freedom of speech, you have every right to an opinion but did she really deserve a bullet to her head for something that YOU easily could’ve turned your eyes to? YOU could’ve blocked her? If YOU have a right to freedom of expression why didn’t she?
This is a trend in Pakistan. We pick up our pitch forks and light our torches every time a woman does something with her own life. But when children are being raped, women being abused and ‘politicians are bribing, robbing and killing in the name of Islam’ we stay quiet. We make a face, nod in disagreement acknowledging that its wrong but then do nothing. However as soon as a video surfaces of an actress dancing in her car, there’s a public outcry. Women are ‘soft targets’, they’re easy to pick on and make us feel like at least we’re fighting for something. Clerics especially just love to condemn these women as if they’re the only threat to Islam. They have rallies, spit out harsh words all in an attempt to make sure everyone thinks they’re doing something to justify their tax-free lives. They give the illusion of work being done so no one can rise up against them. Think of it this way, they clean a bowl and put it at the center of the dinning room table for everyone to see so no one notices the unwashed dishes piled up in the sink. It’s easy for them because they know these woman can’t fight back on the same scale.
And for everyone who says that it’s because they ruin the image of Pakistan and disrespect our ideologies, I would just like to say to you; really? Does Pakistan really have a bad reputation because of Veena Malik? Is your visa being rejected because of Qandeel Baloch? Is our Prime Minister being treated with less respect at international forums because a woman decided to wear short clothes and kiss a guy?
We place the entire burden of our nation and religion’s reputation on the shoulders of women who did even ask for it. And then we bury them alive if they refuse to carry it. We’re quick to cry foul every time a woman does something that she may even grow up to realize as a mistake. Instead of treating them with patience and kind words, we share their memes and add our own derogatory captions. We don’t lend a hand to someone at a low point in their lives instead push them down further. We don’t pick out our targets with careful thought and consideration rather just go for what’s easiest. We frown at a woman in short clothes but play ‘tutti frutti‘ at every mehndi. We add completely irrelevant item songs to our movies and then show our knives to Neelum Muneer. We are a nation of hypocrites, want proof? The Maulvi in the above interview chewing Veena’s ear off about Islam and the duty we all have to spread a modest image is the same one whose pictures were leaked with Qandeel Baloch.