In a society where hypocrisy runs rampant, brutal patriarchy, aka ‘honour’, has literally snuffed the life out of yet another woman whose only crime was that she wanted to be herself — Fouzia Azeem aka Qandeel Baloch, the social media celebrity we all loved to hate, but couldn’t resist following.
Sometimes referred to by media as the ‘Kim Kardashian of Pakistan’ and often called publicity-crazy, she must surely be having the last laugh and no meagre satisfaction, that news of her murder made it to the front pages of all newspapers, and the headlines of hourly news broadcasts on radio and television, totally eclipsing, and stealing the thunder from the other ‘big’ international story – the attempted coup in Turkey. For a media celebrity, you can’t do better than that; so even in death, as in life, Qandeel has shown the finger to her detractors.
Moral policing is a national pastime in ‘The Land of the Pure’ and all our impure thoughts have to be laid at someone else’s door, just as it was with the woman who had ‘no shame’ about exposing her forced marriage, domestic abuse, hypocrisy of the clergy, and yes, ownership of her will and her body. She was blamed for enticing hapless (and helpless) men to sinful thoughts, the onus totally shifted from them to her, as obviously, self-control is a rare commodity in a nation that thrives on the ‘blame game’, refusing to take any responsibility for actions.
Just as everything else about her was ‘unbelievable’, so was her certainty that her life was in danger, and her pleas to those in positions of authority to provide her security, a citizen’s right in any civilized country, were scoffed at and laughed away.
The state failed Qandeel, as it has failed thousands of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, who fall victim to atrocities perpetrated by custodians of morality; but her death has sparked debate and controversy, and that’s what her life was all about.