Nighat Dad cached version 04/07/2018 16:26:09 en The dishonourable killing of a Pakistani social media celebrity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Qandeel Baloch’s murder fuelled the debate over women’s sexuality, their lives, and their deaths. Her ‘honour’ killing could bring about changes in Pakistan’s legal structure.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Qandeel Baloch. Credit: Qandeel Baloch, promotional image. </span></span></span></p><p><span>Fauzia Azeem, who was better known as Qandeel Baloch, was killed on July 15, 2016. This was the first time that a social media celebrity - or celebrity of any kind - became the victim of an ‘honour’ killing in Pakistan.</span></p> <p>Barely two months have passed since her brother <a href="">drugged and then strangled</a> her as she slept. Why he did this has a sinister answer: her brother could no longer handle criticism from people around him. His sister was popular for her sexually charged videos and pictures. She was owning her sexuality and using it to her advantage. Pakistan cannot handle strong-headed women, and here was one who went a step further and took her body back too.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;Qandeel Baloch is Pakistan’s first iconic social media celebrity - I say ‘is’ because her death has done little to dampen her fire. It is a fire that may engulf the tradition of honour killing itself. After her death, we discovered the level of threat she had faced: her Facebook page showed the barrage of insults and abuse that were hurled at her. In response to a <a href="">tweet in which she celebrates Malala</a>&nbsp; just days before her death, she is told. “If you get shot on head and die, we will celebrate #QandeelDay too. I promise!” <a href="">writes one twitter user</a>. </p> <p>“Don’t compare yourself with normal or intellectual women...” <a href="">writes another</a>. </p> <p>&nbsp;“I’m your biggest fan do you like me I’m a good guy and I like bad bitches” <a href="">writes one more</a>. </p> <p>From sexual solicitation to outright threats and abuses. Every single thing she’s posted on social media is full of this, some of it in Urdu. We received the same treatment after we began tweeting about the hurt and the heartbreak caused by the senseless violence that had resulted in her death. Here are a couple of examples of the abuse I received on social media:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="817" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The barrage of abuse I got, and continue to get, from digital quarters left me rattled and worried. I felt like shutting myself out from social media. How Qandeel managed to wade through all the hate is beyond the people who are now rallying to her cause. She came from humble beginnings. While she may have begun by posting videos and selfies just to get attention, of late her words were finding their story. She was a feminist and proud. She was all about women taking control. And Pakistani feminists like myself couldn’t get enough of her. However, the general public couldn’t understand <a href="">why she couldn’t just shut up and be content</a> to be a sex object? Qandeel had gone from someone who was posting saucy selfies seemingly just for entertainment to someone who said “this is me, I’m taking control of my sexuality. I have a life, I have dreams and I’ll do what I want.” When she began talking about her rights as a woman, <a href="">she was deemed to have gone too far</a>. &nbsp;Her murder shook the country, but many simply shrugged and said she had it coming. Others who condemned the death were quick to point out that they weren’t defending her actions, just her death.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Waseem Azeem, brother of Qandeel Baloch, July 17 2016. Credit: PA Images / Asim Tanveer</span></span></span></p><p>However, to say that Pakistan has a unique problem with honour killing would be inaccurate. Women are being killed &nbsp;<a href="">all over the world</a> because of patriarchy. The labelling is different but <a href="">Qandeel was not killed for Islam</a>, or property, or any reason apart from the ego of her brother. The same ego was not hurt when she was providing for the family - just when the clerics got involved. That seemed to be the turning point. A month or so before her death, Qandeel <a href="">posted selfies and a video with a well known cleric Mufti Qavi</a>. Pictures of Qandeel wearing his religious cap went viral instantly. When the mufti insisted he had only met Qandeel at her insistence she hit back by saying he was in love with her. The cleric was ridiculed on a national level subsequent to the controversy. The events led to his suspension from the Ruet-e-Hilal committee and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. &nbsp;It was only after this controversy that Qandeel began to fear for her life. It is not yet known whether he did play a role in her death, but <a href="">he is being investigated in her murder inquiry.</a> </p> <p><strong>The question is: what is Pakistan going to do about this? </strong>Qandeel’s death has triggered a debate over further provisions against honour killings in the country.<strong></strong></p> <p>The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2005 tried to address honour crimes in Pakistan. It introduced a clause that addressed “offences in the name or on the pretext of honour”. <a href="">While the move was lauded, the issue of honour killings did not die down because of it</a>. The amendment has been criticised for being too vague, and has been easily manipulated in favour of the murderers and not the victims. The law holds that someone who murders in the name of honour will be sentenced to a term not less than ten years or life imprisonment or death. However, a loophole within the law allows heirs of a victim to forgive murderers sometimes in exchange for blood money and other times because they will not punish the son for the daughters, sisters and mothers lost.&nbsp; In Qandeel’s case, the state made itself party to the case so that her family would not be able to forgive the son for the murder although her father did accuse his son of murder in the First Information Report (FIR) that was submitted to the police. A popular argument for forgiving such killers is that a person has already lost one daughter, why should they lose another by condemning their son.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="410" height="512" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> Qandeel Baloch at a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan, June 28, 2016. Credit: PA Images / M Jameel </span></span></span></p><p>In Pakistan, men acting out against women get sympathy when they argue that they were protecting their honour. Their friends and families do not abandon them, and in some cases they are revered as heroes of their own stories.&nbsp; Honour killings continue to be seen as normal practice in Pakistan. So much so that in many cases when a woman is murdered the motives aren’t even questioned before the label is added. Upon further inquiry we find that the dispute may have been related to a number of different things from property to a second marriage, but we are quick to say that the women were killed for honour instead. A kind of absurd legitimacy is associated with honour crimes. People in such instances may say that women did not deserve to die, but there’s also an underlying tone that they may have deserved to.&nbsp; What makes matters worse is that it’s easier to get out of a murder charge with honour killings because of the current flawed legal system. You can make laws, but you cannot force policemen to intervene and implement them and you cannot force people to use them. </p> <p>The culture of attacking women must change, the culture of storing a man’s ego and honour within a woman’s body must change, and we must stop expecting women to transform or live their lives according to the fragile male egos that surround them. Interestingly, the Council of Islamic Ideology (which has previously decreed child marriages to be within the ambit of Islam) has declared that <a href="">honour killings are un-Islamic</a>. Perhaps change is finally coming. Now, a new Anti-Honour Killings Bill is sitting in the Pakistani Senate looking to improve on the 2005 amendment by revoking the right of the victims’ family to forgive the murderer. </p> <p>Pakistan continues to be poorly served by laws that exist, and implementation that doesn’t. So while we are all hopeful for a law that addresses honour killings, and wish with all our hearts that it will provoke change - unless the mindset surrounding honour killings is changed, nothing will.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/use-and-abuse-of-honour-based-violence-in-uk">The use and abuse of honour based violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/in-memory-of-sabeen-mahmud-%E2%80%9Ci-stand-up-for-what-i-believe-in-but-i-can%E2%80%99t-fight-">Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter fundamentalisms patriarchy violence against women young feminists Nighat Dad Thu, 15 Sep 2016 08:44:01 +0000 Nighat Dad 105363 at Nighat Dad <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nighat Dad </div> </div> </div> <p>Nighat Dad is the Executive Director of the Digital Rights Foundation. She was one of Time Magazine's Next Generation Leaders in 2015, and in 2016 became the second Pakistani to win the Atlantic Council Freedom Award. Her work revolves around digital rights, minorities, and women empowerment. She is the mastermind behind the Hamara Internet Campaign. She tweets @nighatdad</p> Nighat Dad Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:35:43 +0000 Nighat Dad 97963 at Playing with people’s emotions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 21.6667px;">'Every time the western media decides what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they generate a lot of debate in our country.' A leading Pakistani digital rights activist on the politics of counter-terror and surveillance.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img width="460px" src="//" alt="wfd" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Protest against suicide bomb blast at a Karachi mosque." title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest against suicide bomb blast at a Karachi mosque, January 2015. Demotix/ ppiimages. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>Mary Fitzgerald:</strong> First of all, tell me how you came to be at the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a>? What is the work you do and why do you do it? </p> <p><strong>Nighat Dad:</strong> I founded a digital rights foundation in 2012 in Pakistan. But even before founding this organisation I was working on issues like internet freedom, privacy, freedom of expression, access to information, and involved in providing digital security training to journalists and activists, to young women and girls. </p> <p>I felt that it was very important, instead of working on an individual level, to start a foundation which provided a platform for people to talk about these issues, and also to raise awareness amongst the general public about digital freedoms, which I think is <i>very, very</i> important and relevant now because of the increase in internet users in Pakistan. Also, important in the light of the proposed regulations (and existing laws) which aim to control the internet and technologies, in the name of national security.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Yes, you told me that using encryption is actually illegal in Pakistan? <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">But then there is also a need to discuss the point at which that hateful speech becomes dangerous speech.</span></p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> Yes. There are some regulations that are written in a very vague and ambiguous language. It doesn't explicitly say that encryption is illegal: but it says that if you want to use encryption you have to get permission from the Pakistan telecommunication authority. Which actually spells death for encryption. The whole point of encryption is to be anonymous, right? The ambiguity of the legislation is really problematic and challenging. Nobody has ever been prosecuted under such legislation, but these sleeping provisions can be used against people who are being targeted by the security authorities.</p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>This kind of vague catch-all legislation that can be used against you in ways that aren't yet quite defined – do you know of any other countries that are doing that?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I know that the Indian IT Act of 2002 was also very problematic because it was supposed to deal with cyber crimes and the challenges around cyber space, but also contained some problematic provisions around censoring and blocking content while offering very vague terminology about whether something is anti-state or not. In Pakistan we would normally say anti-state is anti-army, obscene, immoral, anti–Islam... It was kind of similar to the provisions in the Indian Act as well. But at the same time it is very encouraging to see how the Supreme court of India actually struck those provisions from that law. Pakistan, however, is now going to propose the same kind of provisions in the Cyber Crime Bill to be discussed in our National Assembly very soon. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">In order to draw the line between hate speech and when this hate speech becomes violent speech, you need to see the social context as well.</span></p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>We've heard a lot about protecting freedom of speech online – this is what you campaign for obviously – but what if that speech is hateful, if it's cruel, if it's abusive? Where do you draw the line?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There is a lot of debate about when freedom of expression or the freedom of speech becomes hateful speech. But then there is also a need to discuss the point at which that hateful speech becomes dangerous speech. Lots of countries are now enacting legislation to control hate speech: but the interpretation of hate speech varies from person to person. </p> <p>I'll give an example from my country: again in the proposed Cyber Crime Bill, they have mentioned hate speech against minorities and vulnerable communities. But the language is so broad. So maybe my freedom of expression is hate speech for you and freedom of expression for someone else – it’s a very subjective term. There is existing legislation that, if governments and authorities wanted to actually implement it, they could use to control hate speech against minorities or hate speech against vulnerable groups. But if the existing legislation has never been implemented, what is the assurance that the new legislation or the proposed policies will actually control crimes like hate speech? That's something that I see in Pakistan, that the new laws are mostly aimed at controlling and regulating the internet. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Violence and abuse of women in Pakistan is a huge problem. Should speech that is incredibly hateful towards women, or speech that gets close to inciting that kind of action be included in the hate speech legislation? Where do you draw the line? This isn't a religious minority, this is half the population, and it’s a massive social problem across Pakistan. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">After that attack we witnessed how the government started making new legislation and changed the narrative around national security, making it more important than liberty.</span></p> <p><strong>Nighat: </strong>It’s a very tricky issue to deal with, but I always say that in order to draw the line between hate speech and when this hate speech becomes violent speech, you need to see the social context as well. I've been working on the issue of online harassment for a very long time in Pakistan, and have started doing educational campaigns. I feel that legislative responses are not always the best in dealing with such issues. Massive educational and awareness campaigns are really, really important, how women internet users can secure their communications and deal with these issues by themselves, instead of looking to prosecute, which is again a very, very challenging process for women in Pakistan. They are not always encouraged to go to police stations and file a report, or follow up with the authorities. And then, again, the agencies that are dealing with these issues are really not that popular. I suspect that if women are facing these kind of issues they would never go to federal investigations agencies (e.g. the cyber crime federal investigation agency) and report the crime there. </p> <p>But in our campaign, we are trying to raise awareness about how to use these spaces securely. </p> <p>I feel that the major reason for harassment and hate speech is because women don't actually know how to make their communications more secure, or how they can deal with harassment, or even how they can report the crime. So in this campaign we tell them how they can make their communications more secure and how they can report these things to the cyber crime agency. We are trying to build trust between the general masses and the security agencies, that: 'yes, actually they are dealing with the issues so you can report it, and if you don't report it, it wont be resolved.'</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> I hear in some of what you say that you can’t just legislate a problem away, and that actually government and civil society would make better use of their time trying to tackle this problem in other ways. Is that how you feel?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There is lots of legislation around the issue, but what is lacking is the implementation of that legislation. We don’t need more laws around dealing with harassment, whether online or offline. The government and other authorities should put their energies into implementing existing legislation, because the problem with the introduction of new legislation is that they are doing favours for different authorities. </p> <p>In the proposed Cyber Crime Bill, the power goes to agencies, in the Anti-Terrorism Act the power goes to the police, in the Pakistan Protection Act the power goes to the army. And they are all dealing with the same issues. So it just confuses the citizens about where to go, and I think it’s very important that they exhaust their energies in implementing the existing legislation, instead of making new ones which are more and more problematic, and just aim to control the internet. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> We're here in France speaking about these issues of surveillance and security at a particularly tense moment. A poll came out just yesterday saying that 84% of French people would now prioritise security over liberty. Do you think that’s the right direction for France; do you think it’s even the right choice?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I don't think so</p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>Do you see it as a real choice?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I actually don't think so. Unfortunately, just recently in Pakistan, in December 2014 there was a massive terrorist attack on a school where more than 100 children were killed. It was a very unfortunate and sad moment for Pakistan, and after that attack we witnessed how the government started making new legislation and changed the narrative around national security, making it more important than liberty. </p> <p>It was very easy to play with people's emotions because at that time the people were very emotional. They were saying that we need to combat terrorism, we need to deal with these terrorists, and we need to do this and that. At the same time, the follow up decisions made by the government were really problematic. They were making new laws and new committees about how to deal with terrorism. Then there was this national plan that was a temporary plan to deal with the security issues in Pakistan, and beneath this plan there was legislation that will be there forever to haunt our generations.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Give an example of something particularly worrying to you.</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> For instance the Pakistan Protection Act...</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> What does that mean in practise?</p> <p><strong>Nighat: </strong>It means you are giving a lot of power to the military. Just imagine, in a democratic state like ours, if we are again going back to this institution which I totally respect, but we have seen lots of authoritarian regimes in Pakistan and I really don't want to see that again. </p> <p>So why not make decisions where we can see that democracy is there and that it’s prevailing? I'm seeing the same decisions taken by the European nations and by western societies after these terrorist attacks, and I think that they are setting very bad precedents for countries like ours where the argument is very easy for the developing nations: 'why can’t we do it, if the western democracies are already doing it?'. </p> <p>We are more vulnerable because we are developing countries, and secondly because we are the target of terrorists, we ourselves are fighting this war on terror. So the authorities can validate their argument and can easily change the narrative around national security, and can easily change people's minds.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> I noticed as well the terror attacks in Pakistan in 2014 provided an excuse to bring back the death penalty. And now there are an extraordinary number of people whose convictions are unsafe and they are being executed for crimes, which I understand is popular in Pakistan, but problematic?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There was a lot of resistance. But honestly what I feel, Mary, is that the government changed people's minds so much after this terrorist attack on the school, that even people who think that the death penalty was wrong were actually supporting the decision. It’s very difficult for just a few people to challenge a government decision around the death penalty. But I don't know whether executing people can really solve any problem. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Every time the western media make decisions on what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they actually generate a lot of debate in our country.</span></p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Why is it that the western media only calls those who abuse the name of Islam terrorists? Why wasn't Dylann Roof called a terrorist, why wasn't Breivik called a terrorist?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> These are the choices that the western media makes. Every time they make decisions on what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they actually generate a lot of debate in our country. I don't know how to respond to that. But can I mention what happened yesterday? </p> <p>My family was terrified that I was coming to France. We have seen that there have been some incidents against Muslims, and yesterday I was on a tram. The tram was full and there was this man sitting down: the seat next to him was empty. I wasn't intending to sit there, but when he saw me he actually put his hand on the seat, so that he didn't have to sit next to me. And I felt so bad. I thought to myself, I cannot even resist that. I actually could sense the hate towards me. But I'm lucky that I'm going back to Pakistan. I could sense that hate, it was very difficult for me, to be on the tram for another 5-10 minutes. I actually could sense the hate towards me. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">But I'm lucky that I'm going back to Pakistan. I could sense that hate, it was very difficult for me, to be on the tram for another 5-10 minutes.</span> I could imagine the kind of hate that Muslims are now facing in the aftermath of these incidents. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Four people who operated drone attacks came out over the weekend and said that the number of civilian casualties was much higher than as reported by the press and the authorities, and they said it was creating more enemies for America than it was removing. It was very brave, I think of them, that they came out and said that and could be facing all kinds of ramifications for doing that, given their position. You live in Pakistan, which is the focus of so many of these drone attacks. Does their analysis bear out for you?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There are different discourses around drone attacks, one part of society believes that it's right, and that that's how we can put a stop to the terrorists. But at the same time there is a huge discourse about whether this violates the sovereignty of the country. And also, how they decide that they are actually killing terrorists? For the operators, it’s like a videogame, where they are killing people without knowing who their targets actually are. And I'm not sure that their target is right every time. </p> <p>There are so many families who have been affected by these drone attacks, there are so many children who are being disabled, and they can’t even go for a legal remedy because when they go to the Supreme Court even, they cannot prevent it happening. Drones are being operated from the outside, but no drone can be operated without the permission of the sovereign authority in Pakistan. The people are just helpless. </p> <p>The numbers of those affected by these drones are in the hundreds. It’s not just the US that is operating a drone programme in Pakistan, but also countries like Germany: giving their own land to operate these attacks. The responsibility goes to all these western nations. I’m so lucky I can come to these international panels to talk about the issues and talk about my people and the challenges that we face. But also I feel that people in Pakistan are being affected, and no one is there to listen to them. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> That's why you're here. Thank you.</p> <div style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 100%; float: right; margin-left: 14px; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;">There is an acute and growing tension between the concern for safety and the protection of our freedoms. How do we handle this? Read more from the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a> partnership.</span></div></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><img src="//" alt="wfd" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU Pakistan Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics World Forum for Democracy Mary Fitzgerald Nighat Dad Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:26:12 +0000 Nighat Dad and Mary Fitzgerald 97962 at