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De-Coding Khalil-Ur-Rehman Qamar

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TV channels have a long history of featuring the likes of Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar who defend patriarchy and openly undermine women’s rights. 

For the past one year or so, we have been seeing KRQ on various talk shows talking about women’s rights, Aurat March. The first time he came on a podcast show, he equated gang-rape with women’s rights: ‘If women demand equality then firstly, they should do gang rape on a man’. I was horrified beyond belief when I saw this intense callousness towards such a serious and heinous crime against women. Then a few months later, he was called in again to talk about Aurat March in 2019. On that talk show he verbally abused a woman on live TV show. What followed after that unfortunate incident was a barrage of shows; the channels kept on giving him platform to spread venom against women in the garb of culture and religious protection. This led to his increased celebrity status as a highly regarded intellectual in the field of intelligentsia.

I want to address each and every stance that he’s concocted in a twisted web of argument to support his intense misogyny. Firstly, he blames women for corruption in our country. If only Mr. Qamar had bothered to study macro economics, political and social governance, he would have understood what causes corruption in the first place. But very conveniently, KRQ states that when a woman is greedy she pushes her husband to resort to corruption to fulfill her economic needs. Let me educate Mr. KRQ. According to major think tanks that work globally to research on multiple macro and micro indicators, women are more trustworthy and their behavior in experimental trust games is much higher than their male counterparts. If these results are applied to real life settings, such as politics and labour force, countries might suffer less from corruption at public expenses.

Secondly, a man divorces a woman only if he catches her red handed with another man. This is such a disturbing statement in itself because very conveniently, Mr. Qamar negates the other grave causes of divorce, namely domestic violence, marital rape, infidelity (by either of the partners), emotional abuse, infertility, desire to have a baby boy etc. According to research on Pakistan, the leading cause of divorce is illiteracy. Lack of education to understand basic human decency, empathy and the demands and complexities of a marriage lead to a divorce. Infidelity is wrong irrespective of the gender committing it. Conversely, if a man cheats on his wife, again it’s the “other” woman responsible for the act.

According to KRQ, a man is physically and emotionally incapable of saying no to any form of seduction offered by a woman. Hence the onus lies totally on a woman who seduces the ‘poor’ gullible man. When you listen to this ludicrous argument, you deduce that all men at large are unfaithful by design, as if they have no moral or ethical bone in their body with respect to the sacred institution of marriage. We all know how wrong it is as not all men are infidels and not all women are infidels either.

KRQ’s stupidity sends a very dangerous signal to impressionable young men. They will feel it’s their birth right to cheat on their girl friends and/or their wives because they are just not genetically engineered to say no when tempted. I would ask all the men reading this article, if they are righteous and honest in their hearts, would they want to imbibe the trashy mindsets that KRQ is advocating through blasting talk shows?

Thirdly, he uses an old fashioned trope of foreign funding to malign human rights activists, feminists and the organizers and participants of the Aurat March. There are some foreign agents that are financing these “buri auratain” (bad women-feminists) to influence the “achchi auratain” (good women). In his half baked mind, achchi aurat is defined as the one who is subservient to patriarchy and who is given respect and rights so long as she’s confined to the boundaries laid down by patriarchy. Mr. Qamar needs to understand that firstly, any foreign agency is not even remotely interested in destroying the moral fabric of our country. Interestingly, he never mentions their names. Who are these agencies? Which country do they belong to? What’s their agenda? My counterpoint to Mr. Qamar is that even if there’s a foreign aid agency to help these women, has he bothered to ask them as to what causes are they promoting? He’s constantly shoving down our throats while ignoring that our country is being run with foreign aid.

Last but not the least is the most self explanatory yet increasingly attacked slogan of “Mera Jism Meri Marzi” (my body my will). Time and time again this slogan has been explained in various talk shows, that it represents a fight against rape, sexual harassment, honour killings, domestic violence, and all kinds of physical violence and harassment against women, children and trans-genders. KRQ thrashed this slogan by using religion, yet again a powerful tool to slash any valid cause. He equated MJMM with behayi (vulgarity) of a woman to have sex with her boyfriend while her dad/brother is outside the room. This level of filth is beyond my comprehension. Furthermore, he lambasted the TV dramas that showcased child sexual abuse by family members and friends. This is an on-going pandemic in our society and some TV dramas have beautifully highlighted this to increase awareness.

What bothers me the most is the fact that TV channels have no charter of decent decorum or etiquette for their panel guests. It’s a sad and pitiful situation that a man like KRQ would openly shout, bad mouth, misbehave, and abuse the moderator and fellow panelists. Yet the channels continue to invite him to spread his twisted mindset that is not backed by any empirical and/or scientific evidence. Isn’t it the responsibility of the channels to ensure that the respect and integrity and moral behavior be ensured at all times?

I understand that his trashy demeanor and filthy views garner viewership that helps in increasing advertising revenue. But couldn’t the channels hire business consultants to help them in exploring other avenues of revenue generation? I would like the channels to own this social responsibility and invite those individuals who present arguments backed by solid evidence and give their opinions in a decent and respectable fashion. Also, I request PEMRA to take notice of behaviors on talk shows and take serious action against the channels when controls on etiquette and decency are not implemented.

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Naya Daur