Sexism in the corridors of power

June 15, 2017
Nazia Memon


By: Nazia Memon

I have a doubt that Khawaja Asif Federal Defence Minister has been working as the builder who have possessions with building machinery like tractor trolley and dumper but he is not the builder like “Bob”  because Bob the builder emphasizes conflict resolutions and Khawaja Asif like to create conflicts with opponent parties, Bob’s catchphrase is “Can we fix it?” but federal Defence Ministers motive is “can we dig it”, with his own damped, sick mentality he may think that he’s politically correct to criticize another political parties workers but why he won’t dare to call any men tractor trolley and dumper? However, the mural goes beyond showing how brazenly shame gets used as a political tactic. It also shows how the people most concerned with women’s bodies are the most unconcerned about actual politics itself.


There is perhaps no female politician in history who has endured the same volume of sexist slams – then Shireen Mazari.


Federal Defence Mnister of Pakistan and PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif appeared to ridicule the current political defections to the PTI and in contrast the efficiency of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with that of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The Defence Minister, did not target the male politicians joining the party and instead went on to cast slurs against the female politician, While targeting Imran Khan he have brought to display yet again his chauvinistic and misogynist approach to show how sheepish he can be  to target women politician in his recent tweet. Loathsome and revolting comments against Shireen Mazari and Firdous Ashiq Awan are inexcusable.

When politicians give voice to the ugliest forms of sexism, it is especially important to fight back but I have heard many women in politics say that harassment and sexist commentary are par for the course and what awaits those who attempt to fight back against sexism on the political stage? More sexism and harassment.

Even women who haven’t run for office but are in the political spotlight nonetheless have felt the wrath of a culture that hates women in the public sphere.

Sexist attitudes usually include negative stereotypes that create barriers or unfair double standards for women, so long after women entered the political arena; it’s distressing to see the same tropes, stereotypes and names still lobbed at women just because some men are as afraid of women in power as they were years ago. They are still not willing to handle the fact that women were able to debate or deal with them on an equal footing.


Almost exactly a year ago, Khawaja Asif subjected Mazari to the same offensive language during a National Assembly session, last year in Ramazan National Assembly witnessed a boisterous and clamorous situation during the session  when federal minister used violent and un-parliamentary words for the senior PTI leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Shireen Mazari. The obnoxious remarks were condemned by the Opposition members, forcing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to expunge those words from the Assembly proceedings. This insulting attitude of a sitting minister is in absolute contrast to the universal democratic norms and values but he is not the only one in his party who has made an unpleasant remarks about women lawmakers, the remarks are a candid manifest of dictatorial mindset of the parliamentarians belonging to the PMLN especially Khawaja Asif, who is fond of passing such insulting remarks as routine.

Sexist slams seem to never end, there seems to be no end to the number of insults that are tailor-made for women.

The fact that these practices are reflecting what happens on the streets, in factories and in offices every day.

For or as long as women have wanted to have a voice in our political process there have been men looking to shut them up with slurs and condescension and it shows no sign of stopping – or even slowing.

What has changed is that we feel about to speak out and denounce these things.

Passing sexist remarks, abusing, torturing and threatening women shall not be acceptable anymore. We cannot allow the quotidian nature of sexist remarks numb us to their effects, especially when they come from the mouths (or tweets) of political leaders.

We are seriously concerned and believe that such behavior by those who represent us in the Parliament would encourage such behavior among general public. Tolerance of abusive attitude of parliamentarians towards women will further promote violence and harassment against women in the country.

These members of the Parliament should be banned for damaging the repute of the country in the international community.

Pakistan has ratified international covenants and conventions regarding the protection and granting of rights of the women, but on the other hand its parliamentarians are bulldozing human values.

Male politicians must end their sexist, immodest ways, such brazen sexism shows that nowhere in the world have we come as far as we thought – or hoped – on equality, or even human decency.

The parliamentary community must speak out against sexism and harassment and make clear that it cannot be tolerated as the price to be paid for women’s political involvement.

“Little has changed, the women lament and we are still a long way from real equality. It’s a constant fight”.

Published in Opinion, Power Games

Story first published: 15th June 2017


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