“This is what a feminist hero looks like,” says Ed West of the Daily Telegraph.
West is not highlighting some Western feminist complaining about alleged patriarchy-he is praising Pakistani actress Veena Malik, who knows the cruelty of a real patriarchy and nevertheless dared to “wipe the floor with a ranting mullah.”
Ms. Malik had appeared on the TV show Big Boss-which West says is “godawful”-but, whatever she did on BB, you’ve got to hand it to her for this performance. As West notes:
And on Pakistani television she is subjected to a lecture by Mufti Abdul Qavi, who tells her: “No one in Pakistan can look at her pictures in the presence of their daughters”, among other things. Bear in mind that not only has she done nothing morally wrong, unless you include dressing in western clothes, but that this is not the same as being criticised by an Anglican or Catholic bishop; the allegation carries real menace in Pakistan.
[She reduces him to nothing.] As she says:
“You are not allowed to set eyes on me in my present condition. You should be punished in public, because charity begins at home. Clerics may look at a woman once, but if they look at her a second time, they must be punished. You deserve to be punished.”
“Also if you want to do something for the glory of Islam…. [there is] bribery, robbery, theft and killing in the name of Islam. There are many things to talk about. Why Veena Malik? Because Veena Malik is a woman. Because I’m a soft target.
“Pakistan is infamous for many reasons other than Veena Malik.”
Incredibly brave, considering the political violence in that country, including the recent murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer. There’s a lot of debate in the west about what feminism means – but I think there’s no doubt that Veena Malik is a feminist hero. If there was an award given for heroic women in repressive societies, she would certainly be a candidate.
And contrary to what the Mufti says, she represents an extremely positive side of Pakistan that we in the West rarely get to see.