Sexism mars Pakistani politics (Opinion)

The political history of Pakistan is replete with numerous incidents where women political leaders are targeted with sexist remarks and subjected to character assassination from their male counterparts.

Women politicians possess a meagre percentage in the politics of Pakistan and are barred from taking part in decision-making roles merely because of their gender. Whenever a woman struggles to achieve a dominant status in her working environment, she is often pushed back on the basis of her limited capabilities, sense of dressing, choice of words in her speech. At times, her character becomes suspicious for public who leave no stone unturned to ridicule her. In 1960’s, when Fatima Jinnah was in politics against Ayub Khan, she was miserably slandered, mocked and ridiculed. Benazir Bhutto got vilified for her choice of clothing, her speech and her personality.

In a patriarchal-dominant society, women are often treated as objects that men use to achieve their purpose and desires. The similar attitude is delivered by male politicians where they treat their female counterparts as mere puppets and robots who they use for the sake of political point-scoring and achieving ulterior motives.

The discriminatory behavior that is showed towards women politicians by their male colleagues marks a clear lack of acceptance of them towards women being at an “advantaged position” in the field of politics.

The recent sexist remarks of former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhary and Moonis Elahi give an evident criterion upon which male politicians make judgements of their female counterparts. The former PTI Minister Fawad Chaudhary described the new minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, as “low-IQ woman” who shows off her handbag and sunglasses as to running a modelling show.

Such remarks resulted for him a serious backlash from social media users as well as his own party members that put a serious question mark on his role as a senior member of party and former minister.
Khursheed shah, a senior leader of Pakistan people’s party (PPP), also found to have made judgement in a teasing tone against female lawmakers. He asked the speaker to not refrain the women who were talking in the parliament.

“If women do not talk, they will fall ill”, he said.
Similar kind of narrative that smells misogyny was once found in the tweet of Khwaja M.Asif when he discovered that Firdous Ashiq Awan has joined PTI. He tweeted: “There is silver lining for Imran Khan, tractor trolley and newly acquired dumper can be used for hauling political garbage.” And, then Rana Sanaullah, the former minister of Punjab, berated the women attending a PTI protest in Islamabad.

“The dance moves of these women show which kind of families they belong to”, he said.
Given the deep-rooted misogyny in the society of Pakistan, such derogatory comments from men are not a surprise for a woman but feelings of disappointments arise when a female politician fully enjoys mocking at her colleagues.

A woman should come for the rescue of other women and must behave as a united entity in the face of societal troubles they share together. Unfortunately, the situation in Pakistani’s politics seems to be contrary. When a female politician is labelled with sexist comments, her other female colleagues take pride in fueling the ongoing friction by mentioning her bad points. Every time a party changes and another party takes control, whoever women take a charge gets ridiculed by her female and male colleagues in one way or the other.

Abusing women and offering disparaging remarks on their character and personality calls into question the reputation and moral values of men. When a woman is publicly harassed, sexually abused, brutally shamed, brazenly hit, only her gender becomes the target and nothing else matters.

A woman’s position in a patriarchal society is always vulnerable when men are not held accountable for their words and actions. It is true that like all the other fields where men and women are mutually working, men enjoy greater impunity due to male dominance in the society while women really deserve better treatment from their male counterparts.

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