On March 23rd, Mehwish Hayat was expected to receive Tamgh-e-Imtiaz (Award of Excellence). For those of you who are unaware, this reward has a lot of importance and value in Pakistan. It is a state-organized honor of the State of Pakistan. It is the First-highest decoration given to any civilian in Pakistan based on their achievements and their efforts in their designated fields.
Many actors have received this award including, Saba Qamar, Reema Khan, Ghayyur Akhtar, and Noor Jehan. So similarly, Mehwish Hayat was awarded this award to honor her contributions and efforts in the media industry. However, this was not well received among the general public. It came as a shock to almost everyone as they thought that Mehwish hasn’t contributed enough to receive such a high honor.
The public took to social media to express how they felt, while some limited themselves to her career and criticized the lack of it; others got a bit personal. Lewd comments were made on her social media profiles, accusing her of sleeping with the personnel to receive the award. Her integrity was being questioned over receiving an award.
For a while, Mehwish restrained herself from retaliating but three days later, she responded. She made a Facebook post regarding the hate she was receiving. It said:
Though I didn’t want to, I feel that I must address the nonsense that some people are spewing about my award. Debate all you like whether you think I deserve it or not – we live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinions. I respect that. However, I do draw the line when my character is being questioned in the most filthy way. I never wanted to make this a gender thing but it is unfortunate that others seem to be. I’ve been called a tawaif, a slut, a whore and so many other fanciful names so often that it has stopped affecting me. However, to suggest that I slept my way to this award is an abhorrent slur on all the hard working women in our country. We may be part of an industry that is seen to be glamorous – but it doesn’t mean that we have forsaken our morals. What gives anybody the right to drag my name into the gutter with crude insinuations. You don’t know me! Thank you to all the supporters and also to all the haters, the last couple weeks have been quite an eye-opener for me,” said Mehwish Hayat.
What we admire about her is how she sensibly she responded to all the haters. One thing that I would like to highlight is that she didn’t discourage people from debating over whether she deserved it or not as long as it was questioning her career and her achievements.
The hypocrisy starts when men are not subjected to this crude behavior. They hardly ever fall prey to such character assassination even when they are at fault. People demand proofs when such allegations are made against a male celebrity but are quick to come up with utterly filthy rumors when a woman achieves more than them. But hey, who are we to march for our rights? This is the equality we keep fighting for but so many men are blinded by their fragile egos.
However, some strong men from the industry flocked to hype Mehwish up.
People waste no opportunity to tear down the Arts & women in PK. So ofcourse if a woman wins an award in Arts,all hell wud break lose.U @MehwishHayat won the debate tht followed & created an enabling enviroment for women from arts to come fwd.& when they do,trolls wil think twice
— Shehzad Roy (@ShehzadRoy) March 26, 2019
I don’t know much about Mehwish and her work but what I do know is that; the slut-shaming has to stop. We need to stop bringing down women for achieving more than us, stop seeing them as a threat and questioning their positions.
Mehwish Hayat, you go gurrrl!