National honour, insatiable voyeurism
In today’s tech-savvy and exhibitionist society, the most part of our digital life is consumed by some sort of revealing images. However, in Pakistan, the matter is somewhat different. In a land where YouTube is banned, videos of Taliban propaganda circulate regularly on the web and usually go unnoticed whereas an actress’s allegedly “objectionable sex” video grabs the attention of the country’s courts. The administrators of justice who “look keenly” into this matter of grave concern, conveniently overlook many other issues of national interest for example, the unconditional release of a number of Taliban fighters following court orders.
Spreading obscenity in society
May be it was the perceived frailty of the “accused” woman or the unanimity of the chauvinist moral brigade that a court in Lahore, responding to a petition filed by one pious Shabir Ahmed, issued an arrest warrant against Pakistani actress Meera on the charges of bringing disrepute to nation by leaking her sex video on social media. The petitioner further accused Meera of spreading obscenity in the society and tarnishing the image of Pakistan. The video has been doing rounds on the internet for a couple of months while actress Meera is embroiled in a legal and moral controversy.
The juicy scandal has offered several members of society an opportunity to express contempt for Pakistan’s “low-grade” film and porn industry, while mocking the poor taste of “our uncultured actresses.” For those always looking for anything offensive or vulgar, the issue was an appropriate time to condemn the “westernisation of society” and castigating an immodest woman with a moral baton.
Had it been another country, the brouhaha might have faded out once the actress had denied the authenticity of the video by terming it fake. But hell, no! In Pakistan, the malicious sexism will stalk a woman till her grave.
Not only was Meera abused by self-righteous commentators in the social media, whose loathe for the “sinful and obnoxious” video earned it millions of views. Meera was chastised by Mubashar, a television anchor notorious for planted interviews. In his show Luqman slyly suggested the illegitimacy of Meera’s relationships while trying hard to implicate her in the Hadood case, a death trap for women, by mentioning her (alleged) previous marriage and a reported abortion.
The FBI investigates Lady Gaga?
The severity of the case was revealed when, on 16th April 2014, the court asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), a top investigative authority that collaborates with Interpol, to file a case against Meera. Imagine the FBI hounding Lady Gaga to probe the originality of her designer underwear! So far, Meera’s alleged crime has been uploading or filming no one but herself and her reported fiancé in compromising position. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
Meera’s greatest crime is perhaps her gender and the fact that she lives in an Islamic country wrecked by radical conservatism. The poor actress has always been an easy prey for an essentially misogynist and ruthlessly colonial psyche that mocks her English, spots her grey hair and ageing skin, speculates over the loss of her virginity and incapability to tie the knot with a socially acceptable Mr. Right.
The object of a sadist society
In fact, Meera is the relic of a film industry already reduced to ashes thanks to the cultural vandalism of moral zealots. She is the target of a sadist society that feeds on graphic violence, mob justice and media vigilantism, a society which keeps itself entertained with “Meera jokes.”
Ironically, the same crowd lashes out at her for tarnishing the image of Pakistan by not carrying herself in a manner befitting the “ambassador of her country.” But what we forget is the fact that she is a person who has all the right to live her life as she wants and that nobody has the right to force their morality on others or invade their private life. Assuming the celebrity to be “public property” does not imply they should be subjected to the same callousness as applied to public property.
Stripping one self in public might be a punishable crime but the freedom allowed to display or share carnal desires in virtual life is infinite and beyond the jurisdiction of any moral police.
Author: Duriya Hashmi
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
You can follow Duriya Hashmi @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date24.04.2014 | 11:09