Guest blog by Abira Ashfaq posted via the Peoples’ Resistance Mailing List
I reacted with horror, and resisted seeing the flogging video on youtube, only to be bombarded with it later on television. I got angry with my mother who recounted the scene with full emotionalism, saying it brought tears to her eyes. I said it was upsetting me too much. By evening I was a bit more objective. But not really. The violent and ferocious messaging in the video was clear. Wars are carved on the bodies of women. Women are raped, tortured, and beaten to further military objectives. Only months ago, news surfaced about Zarina Marri’s torture in a military prison in Baluchistan. And now this whipping. The trauma of the girl is fathomable as the video’s purpose is to make you fathom what fate awaits the women of Pakistan: A naked and public display of fanatical male rage, backed by an authoritative and brutal ‘Islamic’ state.
Is the fear real?
Is this what will happen to Karachi? Our beloved Karachi — the city of lights, tambolas, musical evenings, film festivals, and dharnas? The reality is that Karachi is a schizophrenic city which contains class apartheid, and a gender one too. Most women of our city are in “closed doors” economic apartheid. There is rampant Islamization– the liberal kind that does not conflict with privatization, and the offensive kind that seeks to seclude women further in Hijab and the home.
This offensive kind is still the palatable extremism, one grown familiar on us since the 80s; the overt and militant kind displayed in the video is what we really dread. Is the fear real? Saqib is just back from Mithi in Thar, and reports of a new phenomenon of fresh madrassas with foreign students walking all over the place. A tidbit, sure. But perhaps the fear of it reaching Karachi is not a remote one.