The man who has written TV serials like Pyarey Afzal, Sadqay Tumhare and Mere Paas Tum Ho, Khalil ur Rehman Qamar came under fire on Tuesday evening when he crossed all levels of human decency and dignity by hurling profanities at a fellow female panelist and making personal attacks on her appearance. Appearing on a live show on a local television channel, opining against the upcoming Aurat March on Women’s Day (March 8), Mr Qamar was vehemently opposing the validity of the Aurat March when Marvi Sirmed, also on the panel, interrupted him and reiterated the slogan, Mera Jism Meri Marzi. This slogan is a spin-off of My Body, My Choice, the global movement for women to have the right to safe abortion. In Pakistan, it refers to a woman’s right to self-defense from harassment and abuse of all kinds.
The writer and his unfortunate comments immediately started trending on Twitter, with most people disgusted at his behavior and a parallel population of like-minded people (mostly men) taking the opportunity to condemn the Aurat March. Between all of this online noise, one feels that the issue at hand and the issue that needs to be addressed got lost; KRQ has time and time again proven himself to be a bitter misogynist with little to no respect for women and zero tolerance for an opposing opinion. As a writer, and someone who has the window to influence masses through television, the man’s mindset is his real problem. His hatred for women was evident in how he shouted expletives at Marvi Sirmed. “Mera jism meri marzi?” he snarled at her. “Apna jism dekho; koi mard thookay ga bhi nahin uss par.” (Your body, your choice? Look at your body. No man would even spit on it.) He then called her a bitch and told her to “shut up”, repeatedly.
Khalil ur Rehman Qamar has undoubtedly been providing priceless fodder to channels that are raking in the ratings by inviting him to share his crude and unfiltered views on women. The question is, who died and made him the holy saint of morality, especially of morality applicable to women? Why is he being invited to comment on feminism and women’s rights when he is neither a woman nor a woman supporter? One would think that it would make more sense to have women like Fizza Ali Meerza and men like Nabeel Qureshi, Adnan Sarwar and Sarmad Khoosat (if we’re selecting from film and TV) to advocate the cause since they have made films from a woman’s perspective or in their support.
Mr Qamar’s views and reactions to mostly women who disagree with him is, I feel, the equivalent to harassment and verbal abuse; it’s maybe even worse as it’s camouflaged in the guise of art and literature that is supposed to be a platform for broadmindedness.
Mr Qamar is not broadminded and in fact harbours outdated and Draconian opinions on the role of a woman in the 21st century; his abusive language is nothing short of ‘sexist abuse’.