The difficulty faced by every female politician in Pakistan
January 2 passed quietly. Few people will remember that 56 years ago, on the same day in 1965, General Ayub Khan defeated the mother of the nation, Fatima Jinnah, in the presidential election. Most observers and analysts say that a military dictator used every tactic to win the election. These tactics included a campaign of immorality against Fatima Jinnah.
The quality of Pakistan’s politics and political discourse is itself a matter of debate. How a political debate should take place, how its rules and regulations should be taken care of and what its limits are, is often discussed.
There are frequent attacks on each other and personal and private matters are dragged into the political debate, but there is one problem that tarnishes the political debate and the narrative more than the rest.
It is called misogyny in English, meaning a statement or action that is based on hatred and prejudice against women on the basis of gender. This is nothing new in Pakistan’s politics, especially electoral politics. When Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, ran against General Ayub Khan, she was accused of many things. She was called a traitor and an Indian and American agent, but at the same time General Ayub Khan.
He also said two words about her which fall into the category of hatred and prejudice against women. According to Dr. Rubina Sehgal’s research paper ‘Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Pakistan’ and the then published newspapers Khan had described Fatima Jinnah as a “woman devoid of femininity and affection”.
It is also noteworthy that this statement was not condemned by any section of Pakistani society. One of the reasons for this may be that the media was not free, so even if there was condemnation, it could not be exposed. This process continues to this day. The whole gender-based campaign against Benazir Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto is now part of history. Women political leaders and activists are still subject to this attitude.
Mahesh Bhatti is a social commentator and social media expert. He has worked for the social media sector of a major political party in Pakistan.
Mahosh says the hateful and racist attitude towards women is not limited to the country’s leading women political leaders.
“One is that there is a shortage of women workers in political parties and the other is that they face a kind of extreme prejudice which is very discouraging. There are a lot of dirty accusations against men competing to get ahead in the party.
Mahesh Bhatti says it is her personal observation that many girls who were interested in politics and wanted to participate in politics regularly turned away from politics only because of men’s behavior.
“Men have easily understood that politics is only for men. I have seen for myself that girls are told what your job is here, you have to get married in a while. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.
Mahosh says that resistance for young girls in politics starts from the very bottom and continues to the top. There is no more open political arena for women than for men. ” Sadly, such conversations are very normal. I have personally seen that the members of the Punjab Assembly who came to the reserved seats for women were said to have come sitting on the lap of the Chief Minister.
Mahosh says the language used about women participating in PTI sit-ins was also highly inappropriate.
Even today, Mahesh Bhatti is not happy with the situation. She says that even now when something bad is said about a woman politician on the basis of her gender, it is generally said in the society that she has come into politics.
“That’s what I hear from my relatives and most of my acquaintances, but some people on social media, some activists or women’s rights organizations seem to condemn this behavior.”
It is normal for politicians to criticize each other, but women politicians also face hateful and biased statements against themselves, which is an additional burden for women politicians during the stress of politics.
Political and social analyst Prof. Tauseef Ahmed K says that some male politicians use harsh words against female politicians on the basis of their gender in order to demoralize them and weaken them mentally.
Prof. Tauseef says that if we go further in the history of Pakistan, then the wife of the first Prime Minister Begum Rana Liaquat Ali, despite being the first lady, had to endure many things. She wore a sari which was criticized. Instead of his personality and welfare work, his clothes were discussed.
From this point of view, women do not get the opportunity to compete in the political arena on the basis of equality because they always face a problem and pressure about their caste.
In the 80’s and 90’s, Benazir Bhutto faced such statements and phrases every day. She used to call herself Benazir Bhutto but her political opponents called her Benazir Zardari. An addition to Benazir’s political struggle at all times.
Although three decades have passed since Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister twice, according to Timur Rehman, she can still be seen as a milestone in the journey of women’s struggle in Pakistan.
The majority of those who elected Benazir were poor. There will be many more reasons to vote for Benazir, but the fact that so many people voted for one woman was also a sign of social change.
When her political opponents used to say nasty words about Benazir Bhutto as a woman, millions of her voters felt bad about it. This means that her election has shown some improvement in social attitudes towards women.
Writer and journalist Reema Abbasi highlights a different side of the issue. She says women need to stand up to these social attitudes more strongly. He cited the example of Mehtab Rashdi, who refused to appear on PTV wearing a dupatta during the time of General Zia-ul-Haq and endured the ban. Asma Jahangir, the loudest voice for human rights in Pakistan, spoke out and struggled against the ruling forces but did not allow anyone to dominate her dress, her social likes, dislikes and individuality.
Rima says women should not bow to political and social attitudes against them and should not sacrifice their individuality.
When Benazir Bhutto came to Pakistan in 1986, she should have remained the same in terms of dress. He changed his lifestyle under pressure from Pakistan’s conservative circles. The choice of dupatta and chador Benazir was not a compulsion. When a woman politician does this, it is a defeat for her individuality and personality. Just think that if Benazir Bhutto had been sitting on the Prime Minister’s chair with her old style and dress, how much revenge would have been on Zia-ul-Haq’s thinking and circles.
The question is whether Mehtab Rashdi or Asma Jahangir should not have participated in electoral politics. Politics has its own compulsions and problems that Benazir faced.
However, Reema Abbasi believes that the more women politicians bow to social pressure, the more they will bow.
“Benazir’s voters and supporters had nothing to do with her dress. He had to vote for Benazir Bhutto in any case. Those who had a problem and under whose pressure Benazir put a dupatta or chador on her head, even if they did, they never voted for Benazir.
Reema asked whether Benazir Bhutto did not face any immorality despite wearing a chador.
More women are now visible in Pakistan’s political landscape. Women from areas that are considered very conservative are also playing an active role in every aspect of the election and political process. The country’s laws are also helping women enter politics. But gender-based prejudice against women still exists today. Opponents of the issue say the solution lies in increasing women’s participation in politics.