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#MeToo Analysis Gender Lifestyle

Here’s How Ali Zafar Embarrassed Himself In Court (Again)


Ali Zafar, while enforcing a gag order on all those women who called him out on social media, didn’t hesitate in slandering and slut-shaming Meesha Shafi when cross-examined in the Lahore sessions court on Thursday.

Ali Zafar started his statement by saying that he respected the #MeToo Movement, but that was clearly unapparent in his following statements. The most scandalous and politically incorrect statement was an off-handed remark about how Meesha Shafi didn’t hesitate in putting an arm around his waist during a photo-shoot.

Ali Zafar conveniently forgets that if Meesha Shafi touching him was indicative of her sexual interest in him, the same could be said of him and his various interactions with female stars. But since it is so much easier to bring a woman’s character into question, Zafar didn’t hesitate while taking this cheap line of argument – after all, ‘boys will be boys’ and girls are just supposed to adapt to their entitlement and privilege. That is the very misbehaviour that the #MeToo movement in Pakistan highlights.

Being more comfortable with public displays of affection is not an invitation to touch someone without their consent. Meesha’s entire case centers around the idea of consent – no matter what opinion Zafar had of her clothing, behaviour or character, he isn’t allowed to touch her inappropriately.

And if he is old enough to make sexual choices for himself and ascertain what he likes and dislikes, he can very well understand the body language of someone disliking his advances.

Playing on the supposed frankness in female relationships, Ali Zafar also stated that Meesha Shafi had no need to bring this to court since she could have very easily talked to his wife. Meesha Shafi, in her one and only press interview, claimed that she had talked about this to Pepsi and Ali Zafar beforehand, since Pepsi wanted both of them to collaborate for a future project, and that she had chosen social media as a last resort.

If Meesha Shafi is to be believed, Ali Zafar did not only trivialise her discomfort before she called him out, but is further using his wife to de-legitimise Shafi’s statement now. Even if she is not to be believed, Zafar conveniently forgets that it would be harder for Meesha to confess this to his wife – being a woman isn’t enough of a similar element – since she would understandably believe her husband. No wife wants to believe that her husband harassed another woman and that too, a friend. It seems as if Ali Zafar is resorting to simplistic illogical reasoning now, as a last resort.

Lastly, Zafar said that Meesha Shafi was doing all of this for ‘respect’ and ‘fame’. Considering the way Meesha Shafi’s career came to a halt after the call out and not Ali Zafar’s, evidence disproving this statement is present, a click away, for every Pakistani.

Considering Pakistan’s context where respect is limited to female bodies, disclosing that someone violated that space always takes away the respect in the public eye instead of adding to it.

Ali Zafar has, once again, proven during his public appearance in court, that he isn’t sensitised to female agency and autonomy, and can say callously offensive and sexist statements in his ‘defence’.


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