Privilege and Ignorance: The Curious Case of Waleed Zaman

Do privilege and wealth excuse insensitivity?

The case of Waleed Zaman isn’t one that particularly baffles this author. One might say that nothing baffles her anymore and while one would generally be correct, this author hasn’t yet given up the hope that men, scratch that, everyone would start being a little sensitive when it comes to subjects like sexual harassment, assault, rape and domestic violence.

Well, needless to say, this author should have given up that hope the moment Waleed Zaman raised his fists in the air, as a sign of victory, I presume and proceeded to say seven words that will haunt him for the entirety of his existence.

‘Because we support sexual harassment of women.’

The existing controversy about Teefa in Trouble was at its peak even before this incident; what with the star, Ali Zafar having been accused of sexual harassment by none other than Meesha Shafi, a talented singer in her own right. The loyal citizens of Pakistan thus took to the internet to express their own views and opinions about the entire situation (entirely unneeded opinions, might I add) with Ali Zafar’s fandom asserting that this was nothing but an attempt to gain publicity, attention, and views by a less singer famous, not understanding that Shafi isn’t less famous than Zafar, or less talented, if I might say so. What all of us failed to understand, amongst the mudslinging and abuse is how sensitive this issue is in its sad reality.

Calling Shafi’s allegations a lie and generalizing this to thousands of other sexual harassment cases does not constitute as an opinion. It is insensitive. It is a disrespect to both the silent sufferers and the ones who came forward with their stories. If you cannot see past your love for Ali Zafar and would stoop to making crude jokes about sexual harassment then you might need a moment to set your moral compass and lose your internet privileges. But I digress, let us discuss the actions of Waleed Zaman.

In a protest outside Cinestar Lahore against the movie in question, protestors were making their position known about the issue at hand, going about their business when the unfathomable happened.

Enter Waleed Zaman.

When asked why he and his acquaintances were supporting Teefa as he was headed to watch the movie, Waleed Zaman barely batted an eyelash before saying the most insensitive thing that he could say about this pertinent issue. It caused an instant outcry, spreading like wildfire, some were confused as to who he was, some about how he got away with saying something so serious.

This author diagnosed it as a simple case of privilege and ignorance, mixed with a dash of stupidity. Not only was this outrageous in its entirety but it also meant that he somehow thought his wealth would excuse him, or that he had the right to make jokes at the expense of sexual harassment victims.

Add a bad sense of humor to the mix and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

What with the dismissal of Shafi’s case by Governor Punjab under the technicality that she was not an employee at the time of harassment and therefore could not file a lawsuit under the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010, this author was once again reminded of Zaman’s heedless actions. This new development, however, should not excuse the actions of Waleed Zaman, who has since apologized (or tried to), but should serve as an example of the spoiled, ignorant elite who are not concerned by the consequences their actions might have.

In his apology, (now deleted) he acknowledged the depth and seriousness of sexual harassment but pointed out that he was coerced into saying those words by his anger and disappointment since the peaceful protestors were apparently ‘harassing’ and ‘provoking’ his wife.

Which is exactly why he was smiling and fisting the air so victoriously while talking to the protestors. It must have been anger, definitely. That explains literally everything about his statement.

Not cool, Waleed Zaman. Not cool!

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