ME TOO, Meesha and the Future of Women Empowerment in Pakistan

The Women’s March, a few months back, did not gather the attention it was seeking or at least that is what most of us thought. The single line slogan, My Body, My Will (mera jism meri marzi) received a lot of criticism and mocking and it became a canvas for many viral memes. The slogan, intended to challenge the society’s exception of dress code for women and stereotypes did the complete opposite. The issue was not as simple as it seemed.

me too

While we were busy making counter-slogans and humorous memes, the west, particularly the Hollywood and other such industries were in the spotlight for being guilty of massive discrimination against women in terms of unjust gender pay gap and glass ceiling, obstructing the vertical mobility of women up the corporate ladder. After that, came the startling revelation of Harvey Weinstein scandal in late 2017. Hollywood actors and mostly actresses, came forward one after another revealing that the entertainment industry is tainted with people of massive influence, who use it to fulfill the darkest of their desires. Taking advantage of aspiring young women who want to make a name for them is not completely unknown, but its prevalence on even the highest levels of industry showed that the scope of the problem was beyond imagination.

This became the catalyst for the famous Me Too movement.

Actors and actresses from every tier of the industry revealed that they were or had been taken advantage of on numerous occasions. Given the lack of confidence and courage, this cult continued unnoticed forever and ever. A few bold revelations encouraged many to come out and tell their stories. Some did so openly while others chose only to give a hint of what had happened with them.

me too

This issue was beyond sexism and gender discrimination. The movement went global and also saw its followers in the film industries of India and Pakistan. However, it could be clearly seen that majority of them here chose not to reveal the specifics but only hinted slightly as to what they had to face in order to survive in the industry. It required a lot of courage and steadfastness to go full blunt on the issue.

Whether it was the USA, India or Pakistan, there was a daring initiative at first that was followed by a plethora of similar revelations. Most recent and most controversial were the allegations of Meesha Shafi, against a fellow male singer of sexual harassment.

The trend was same; many more came forward and tried to point out that this particular problem in the show business is not confined to this single incident. Regardless of the merit of allegations, what is more important is the response of the society to this issue. Some came for support while others bluntly refused to believe. Instead of exploring the problem in different dimension, we became the judge, the jury and the executioner.

me too

While we saw that unity among women in Hollywood proved helpful in exploring the issue and received a lot of media attention and debate which led to a clearer picture, here we saw the complete opposite.

The usual media spotlight shone for a few days and we were left in oblivion as to what was the truth behind it.

The said artist is reportedly leaving the country for good. We might hear from her again, we might not. Just like the Afro-Americans in the US, women need to constantly press upon the issues on the right place and at the right time, again and again. This way they might find their Martin Luther and ultimately their salvation.

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