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Web Desk
January 20, 2020

Feminist Tahira Abdullah owns Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar on women's rights


Web Desk
Mon, Jan 20, 2020

Tahira Abdullah, a famed human rights activist and social scientist, schooled Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar on women's rights on Sunday, telling the drama writer that feminism was "revolutionary thought and not some organisation".

A staunch supporter of gender equality, Abdullah was speaking on a private news channel's talk show, where she said feminism was a "revolutionary viewpoint that understands and believes that women, too, are humans".

Quoting the Holy Quran, she recited the verse: "God gives honour to whom He pleases and dishonour to whom He pleases." Women's honour and respect were not in the hands of any man, the social scientist said.

"It's within me. My rights aren't in the hands or the control of a man to give them to me. When I'm born — through the same woman who gives birth to a man — I bring with me [to this world] my rights within myself, within my existence, just like I bring my own body, life, brain, heart, and soul into this world.

"Similarly, I bring my rights and then those rights are given safety, security, guarantee, safeguard as enshrined in this book, the Constitution of Pakistan, and it safeguards my rights — which I brought with me to this world — as a citizen of Pakistan," she added.

The feminist's explanations were followed by pin-drop silence from the other three men, including the talk show host. Qamar, on the other hand, looked disinterested.

When Abdullah stated point-blank that women did not have to ask or take their rights from anyone, the host asked: "So you don't have to ask men for your rights?" To which she said: "Why should I? We were born, encapsulating, enriching, and bringing those rights.

"We don't need to beg for our rights whether we be mothers, sisters, wives or daughters or nothing, even if we are women … just women … we're humans and we need to be accepted as humans."

She also lambasted the loyalty and honour as concepts that were set by men in a patriarchal society.

"This standard, this level, these criteria of loyalty and honour? These were all set by men — the same men birthed through a woman — and then the man gave the woman the bazaar, took her to the brothel, and who goes to a brothel? You men go to the brothel!"

Towards the end of the clip, Abdullah voiced what so many women and feminist allies exasperatedly think about schooling men about unlearning their toxicity and misogyny.

"You see, this can become a very complex conversation and an hour would not be enough. It would take five to six hours to go into this conversation.

"We don't need men to tell us who we are or which woman is good, which woman is bad, what's feminism and what's not feminism, which woman is first-rate, which woman is second-rate … we don't need that. This is what we call mansplaining these days."

The gender equality advocate added: "Feminism is not the name of an organisation but a revolutionary view; it's understanding and believing that women, too, are human beings. You want to talk about equality, rights, who's a good woman or a bad woman, who's a loyal woman, who's worthy of respect but my respect and my dignity is not in the hands of any man to give or take.

"I am born from the same woman a man is born from and when I come into this world, I bring my rights with me, just like I'm born with a body, soul, brain and heart, they are a part of my existence."

Qamar, later, tried to retort, saying: "When you go out on the streets with such placards, you are asking men for rights. You don't even know what your rights are, you want to take rights away from men for yourself but that's not going to happen.

"I hate the fact that [feminists] talk about men with such disdain, I'm the biggest feminist of Pakistan," he claimed.

To which, Abdullah shot back, highlighting the society's double standards that "women by nature are supposed to be loyal but if they can't be loyal, they're bad".

"Men by nature are supposedly not faithful and if they cheat, well, it's who they are.

"We are now in the 21st century and we're exhausted of being continuously judged. Men tell us who we are or what we should be like? Women oppose this objectification and are tired," she added.