Why Deepika’s choice makes sense

In the four minutes that the Vogue #MyChoice video was played online, many critics missed the 3.8 or so minutes that talked about various options women exercise over their bodies: to have children, to travel, to love or to eat in quantities they like, and instead focused on those few seconds Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone speaks about a woman’s right to her own sexuality. The reaction in India to the video teaches us a lot about how any traditional society reacts and we may do well to learn from it because soon enough our women will awaken to their choices too. Just like the India’s Daughter of India video, which exposed in Jawed Akhtar’s words that “all Indian men think like rapists”, this video has been received largely as an attempt to wash over the traditions and culture of India.

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi flayed Deepika Padukone’s video on women empowerment as “height of lack of consciousness”. He said specifically, “We do not realise how much we have changed. It has been an Indian tradition of addressing woman as ‘mother’, but now there are objections at being called a mother.” The irony is unmistakable. This is the precise statement that the video intends to rebuke. The contention is between these two concepts where one seeks to burden an entire people’s culture and tradition over a woman’s uterus and her ability to fertilise an egg legally whereas the other really says that the choice belongs to the one with the uterus and the burden can be better placed elsewhere.

Even in the 21st century, this is a revolutionary concept. So much so that Deepika is being publicly humiliated and slut shamed online by those who are in the Murli Manohar Joshi camp. Online bullying and cyber harassment is commonplace where women speak out to provide an alternate view of their independence. But, as Monica Lewinsky said in her TED talk, “Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop.” This blood sport is not just done by men but by women as well who perhaps have internalised that any idea to hold choices about their bodies must be first routed through a male authority.

Many critics start off with the premise that if and when women exercise their own choice they will be bound to make wrong ones that will ultimately lead to colossal disaster: they will get infinitely fatter, the human race will perish and all women will do is seduce innocent men and break family structures. Others accuse Vogue of being an avenue that only objectifies women, but is that not the oldest argument against every time big money was behind women who were unabashed? The video features 99 women, one of whom was a Muslim who covered her head. Indeed that too is her choice to not be “objectified” assuming that women who step out of purdah are asking for it.

When Margaret Atwood wrote the feminist dystopia The Handmaiden’s Tale, her central theme was fertility because that is the first thing a government of patriarchs want to control. The reaction to this video proves that that fiction is not too far from reality. To fit in to such a dystopia this is what the handmaid thought to herself: “All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

Well Deepika, who has previously never been afraid to come out and talk about her depression, has chosen to not shut up and not dumb herself down, and that is imaginably hard in a society where by and large you are not expected to. Her choice to do this video is a testament to the fact that women really do not enjoy being disempowered and thus unhappy. Those who think the issues Deepika has illustrated in her video are a fragment of her elitism should go take a closer look at women in our villages who birth several anaemic children in a row without their consent, or visit some of the girl children who are wedded to much older men, or talk to those feudal girls who are prohibited to marry because the lands they inherit need to be kept within the families. Frankly, it is elitist to label the video as exclusivist just because it visually does not represent too many traditional women.

The first casualty of patriarchy is disharmony between women themselves. When women see Deepika they need to see a reflection of the same choices they hold dear, not a woman far removed into the stardom of one of the world’s biggest film industries, who does not have anything in common with women here. To Murli Manohar Joshi campers: a woman is more than a just a mother. She is first a person. Some inspiring words for all women, borrowed from the Handmaiden’s Tale: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

Not our war in Yemen

Pakistanis turn vicious when forced to conform to the diktat of the US. They call any such attempt to alter Pakistan’s foreign or domestic policy imperialist and hegemonic. Yet strangely, replace the US with Saudi Arabia and it almost reads like it is supremely ordained by a power that is both respectable and honourable. Historically, Pakistan has been heavily influenced by both countries, yet the resentment for the violation of what Pakistanis refer to as national sovereignty has only been towards one and not the other. Whereas the negative effects of US military cooperation have been exaggerated, those of the Saudis are in stealth mode, presented only in academic studies hardly anyone dares to fund.

On March 26, 2015, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif said that any attack on Saudi Arabia is akin to an attack on Pakistan. Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced, will be part of a coalition against Yemen. This comes at the same time the Pakistan foreign office reports that it is only now considering the request by the Saudis to join the effort. One would have thought that for a decision of such national importance, parliament’s opinion would have been sought and, by extension, would have been representative of the country’s desire to participate in a war against another Muslim country. Sending troops to attack Yemen has great repercussions against our good ties with Iran. Can it afford another precarious border? Whoever is thinking geopolitics needs to reconsider taking Pakistan down the path of meddling in another country’s local wars. We all know how these end. In fact, no one should know this better than us.

Sending our troops, engaged as they are in staving off the attacks on Pakistani soil by the Taliban, to fight a war that will need a new sales pitch is utterly disastrous no matter how well you spin it. It calls into question our loyalty to the victims of the Peshawar attack, the Youhanabad church bombings and the most recent attack targeting a police bus in Karachi claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Why are we being asked to spread ourselves so thin to fight an ego war miles away? Do the $ 1.5 billion the Saudis contributed to the Pakistan Development Fund last year have anything to do with it?

The war in Yemen already unnerves the Shias worldwide and it especially demoralises the Shias in Pakistan who are being preyed upon with growing intensity by both sectarian and militant organisations. Pakistan, by entering in this war, possibly even directly is signalling a united Sunni front, whereas these times call for a more modern all-encompassing Muslim identity.

Since the 1970s the one thing that has changed the rabid religious landscape that Pakistan now finds itself in has been the pouring of Saudi funds into the bellies of clerics. The fattening up of the most bigoted and the most callous towards human rights has been ongoing since then. The sufferers: non-Sunni Muslims, the women and the children who are brainwashed in these seminaries, where crooked versions of thinking are drilled into their young minds. For a nation that is so deathly afraid of its women that it grants them no mobility in a car or to travel without a guardian, Saudi Arabia chest thumps and sabre-rattles with so much machismo. With a transition economy that needs all the women it can get in the workforce, can Pakistan really dive in so emotionally to support a country whose ethos on women can only bring it economic disaster? Only 17 to 20 percent of women participate in the workforce in Pakistan. If we look over at India and Bangladesh, this number is at 40 percent. They are Muslim too, for the record. Political relationships, if not ideologically aligned, are fickle.

As Saudi bombing starts in Yemen, families upon families of civilians have been wiped out in the collateral damage. As a country that is haemorrhaging in the loss of its vital children, its poor and its dearest, Pakistan cannot be part of something that is so violent to another country. It makes no intuitive sense. It makes no resource sense. Above all, it makes no humanitarian sense.

Pakistan engages with the comity of nations with honour and the independent views of its people are not negotiable. Just like the people of even the strongest nations, the people of Pakistan want an end to war. They do not want to be standing at the beginning of a war so far removed that it demands only one question: does this serve to preserve the message of peace that Islam brought to the world?

The jury is out on the worst form of terrorism

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar called the lynching of two Muslims by Christians in Lahore “the worst kind of terrorism”. This is binary thinking: Muslims lynching innocent victims being a lesser form of terrorism versus Christians lynching innocent victims being an insult to our intellect and to all sense of fairness, especially when it is Chaudhary Nisar who called the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud a “murder of peace”. It begs the question: whose side is the sitting government on exactly?

Chaudhry Nisar is not alone in this absurdity. The entire Pakistani society’s reaction to Christians lynching Muslims is very different to their reaction of Muslims lynching Muslims. Remember the boys who were lynched in Sialkot? Nobody demanded that the people who did the lynching needed to be taught a lesson once and for all for forgetting their place in the pecking order and that the issue was one of religious community. Mob justice is a common phenomenon in Pakistan and is practiced with increasing callousness and disregard for the rule of law. So why the sudden over-the-top outcry and horror over this particular incident?

It must be stated for the record that nobody should be lynched. Nobody deserves it. This means that not a single person should be subjected to such a barbaric act. Nobody. None. Ever. The lives of the glasscutter and the garment worker that the Christian mob ended up murdering are no less precious than the lives of Shama Bibi and Shahzad Masih from Kot Radha Kishan near Lahore. The Christian couple, who were the parents of three young children, were burnt alive near the brick-making factory in front of their children. This horrendous act was to avenge a crime that they had not been tried for. They were no less innocent.

We find, however, a stark difference between the way the two cases were profiled. The media, and particularly the Urdu mainstream media, humanised the victims of the Christian mob and practically ignored the personal details of the Christians attacked by a Muslim mob. They were both crimes against human dignity. Shazia Bibi was carrying a child when she was burnt. It does not get more vulnerable and more human than that. The attack on the Christian couple was later investigated and it had turned out that the mob was incited on the dictate of a local mosque cleric. As a contrast, the Protestant and Catholic community leadership asked for forgiveness. “We ask forgiveness for the reaction of the Christian community,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan.

These double standards when it comes to our society’s condemnation are not acceptable. They are telling of the maladjustment and medieval conceptions that make up our schema. We desperately need to realise that our thinking ought not to be a product of our personal prejudices but is indeed a collective equity of our nation. Pakistanis and the lives and wellbeing of Pakistanis ought to be our axis. If you do not agree, please feel free to take up a ministerial position and play out your clan supremacy and bias.

The community we are discussing here is one that is already marginalised. The three million Christians in the country have been repaid for their devotion to the country with only scorn and degradation, ostracisation and loathing.

Allow me to review what exactly happened on the day of the lynching on March 15, 2015. Two bombs were set off in Youhanabad, Lahore near two churches. More than 20 people were killed and over 80 injured. This attack was thwarted by security guards or it would have been a greater calamity similar to the one in Peshawar in 2013. What we see sadly is that with the lynching outrage, the horror of the bombings have redirected from sympathy towards the community towards their demonisation. The injustice of this is unfathomable, for this community has sacrificed rivers of blood for a war that they have no part in.

Stoking the fires of distrust against a minority community is truly the worst form of terrorism. Even worse than that is playing favourites over corpses of one kind of Pakistani over another.

Why Women’s Day belongs to the girl child

It was in 1787 that British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft published a strong case for women’s education in her book: Thoughts On The Education of Daughters. Two and a quarter centuries later in Pakistan, a girl child is shot in the head for advocating for the same thing in Swat Pakistan. Tragically, she is not only forced to live outside the country in fear for her security but the large majority of Pakistanis consider Malala Yousafzai to be an agent of the west. The two fundamental issues here: we are really behind schedule in catching up with the rest on the world on our rights for girls and, two, the suspicion of all things western calls for a reform in our self-destructive thinking. Any notion that omits modernity because of the source being foreign indicates that we are not working on the premise of national interest but on the interests of priests and witch doctors. The intellectual compass needs to be corrected.

This International Women’s Day on March 8, Pakistan over there were moots and talks by women’s rights activists but we need more than just that to carry out the revolt against the woman-hating notions our orthodoxy has. Around the world, 62 million girls are not in school. In Pakistan, educational experts conclude that only 12 percent girls and women can read and write. Even by the most conservative estimate, 3.2 million primary school age girls are out of school in Pakistan. This makes us a country with the third highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

There are no women’s rights without there being a serious introspection into the doors we close on the girl child of Pakistan. We have a tendency to look too far back into the past when we honour the day celebrating women but in Pakistan some of the most worthy heroes are young women themselves working towards a more prosperous Pakistan for whom education is the forte. Here are three women that are reason enough not to give up just yet.

Mashall Chaudhri is a brilliant young woman from Karachi who studied Foreign Service from Georgetown University. For years now her passion has been to start and direct the Reading Room Project (RRP). Unwilling to do nothing in the face of the disastrous quality of education, a severe lack of qualified teachers and a crippling absence of adequate content, Mashall began to use the internet and blended learning to teach Pakistani low-income students how to self-learn. RRP just finished its one-year pilot in February 2014 where 30 students completed a 12-month intensive programme in digital literacy, mathematics and english. Some of the most inspiring pictures come out of this project with young girls, who probably would not otherwise be allowed to hold a pen, holding a computer mouse, intently staring at the computer screen, a window into the world of knowledge.

Humaira Bachal was born in the marginalised Moach Goth squatters’ settlement, in the periphery of Karachi. Despite her father’s opposition and the wrath of her community leaders, she had championed the rights of educating the girl child since she was 12. Since then, what was started as tent classes in her neighbourhood has now become the Dream Model Street School where 1,200 children are enrolled. Humaira has won accolades from her many fans but her greatest fan remains Madonna, who helped give Humaira’s goals the international attention they needed. Shermeen Obaid Chinoy of Oscar fame too has supported Humaira’s cause and has helped her connect to much-needed funding for the school. For causes like this, that have grassroots origins and unquestionable credibility, the more support it gets the larger the faction that goes to the real beneficiaries.

Ammara Farooq Malik has been working for years on restricting the employment of children, particularly young girls, as domestic workers. Five years ago she adopted a school predominantly for child domestic workers and children of domestic workers. The SEPLAA Foundation also empowers young girls and women through training to create social enterprises with the aim to build peace. In South Punjab, the SEPLAA team has reached across to over 800 young girls through seminars and workshops. Ammara has also provided policy recommendations to UNICEF and the Punjab government to bring the Employment of Children’s Act in conformity with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and ratified International Labour Organisation’s (ILO’s) conventions. To date, Ammara has helped over 25,000 children, youth and women in empowerment, education, peacebuilding, environment awareness, legal awareness and health advocacy.

These three young women illustrate that, perhaps, they alone cannot push back the avalanche of out-of-school girls but that each woman can take it upon herself to do her part in her own unique capacity. “The best judge,” said Barak Obama, “of whether a country is going to develop or not depends on how it treats its women.” We cannot disagree with that. Nor can we disagree with Mohammad Ali Jinnah saying that women are perhaps a world’s greatest power: “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”

Pakistan must right this wrong with the urgency it deserves. With Mashall, Humaira and Ammara leading the way, this is a possibility.

Misogyny, say hello to modern technology

It is odd that the protection this country provides its citizenry is directly proportional to their power. The most vulnerable are left to the mercy of chaos: the Ahmedis, Shias, Christians and those random trespassers who are falsely accused of blasphemy either because they did not pay their dues or upset someone more powerful than them. Then it was the children — not just the ones in the Army Pubic School in Peshawar but also the young girl child from Sargodha, who succumbs to the pain and disease of her rape at a hospital. The outrage is muffled at best. A woman in Punjab was gang raped recently and this is not uncommon. According to a Human Rights Watch report, rape takes place once every two hours and a gang-rape every eight.

 

It is odder still that accompanied with this spiral of failing its most unprotected, this nation has no capability or plan to confront the technological aspect of these failures. This gang-raped woman recently had the video of her rape released on the internet. While it made the rounds being downloaded and viewed for the thrill of a sick society where coercion and violence is associated with pleasure, the woman turned from being a schoolteacher to being a social recluse. It seems not to matter to this pervasive victim-blaming culture that it is not she at fault but the assaulters. It seems also not to matter that the shame rests not with her family but her attackers. So, she shudders and trembles describing her ordeal in the media report on BBC.

 

While the government is celebrating the setting up of wifi spots in public places, it fails to understand that there needs to be regulation to protect the misuse of the technology simultaneously, especially where women’s basic rights are being trod upon. Without these checks, technology is effectively bolstering the male chauvinistic, vile misogynist, archaic traditions that have no place after the seventh century. How far back we are being pushed into the past depends on the urgency with which our parliamentarians push legislation to protect women’s right to privacy online.

 

The Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance lapsed four years ago before it could become law. This leaves cases such as this gang rape to rest on the interest and mood of those in power. If interested, they can even get the gateway to the modern library banned. YouTube unblocking activists and lawyers have been campaigning and legislating for years and have found no breakthrough. The offence of religious sensitivity ranks a few hundred thousand rungs higher than the collective humiliation of a rural woman. Emboldened by soft penalties, offenders and the like will continue to hunt women and these women will continue to be met with callousness.

 

Rape laws themselves tell a tale of neglect and absurdity. The Zina and Hudood Act of 1979 got rape victims prosecuted for adultery or fornication. The courts in 2010 declared unconstitutional the provisions of the Women’s Protection Act of 2006. This act tried to prevent rape victims from being tried for adultery or fornication. Parliament did not pass new provisions and that was that. The rape victim was the perpetrator of the crime unless of course four male witnesses were called in to testify otherwise. In 2013, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) patted themselves on the back for dismissing DNA tests as evidence for rapes and declared that without witnesses no rapes would be recognised.

 

So, in the viral distribution of the rape video on the internet, it has propagated the notion feminists have battled for decades, the notion that no means yes and yes means I consent to public humiliation to make the crime be exponentially bolder than a private act. The message boards where the rape video is shared have typical comments about how the schoolteacher brought it upon herself and that she craved fame. Our society on the wave of technology only mirrors our ugliness.

 

Social media and the internet have had a tremendous capacity for turnaround in society’s general approach towards such crimes. The first attempt should be to educate people to not distribute the content and honour the victim’s privacy instead. The second should be to encourage activists and civil society leaders to openly condemn the distribution of the video and the act itself. The third should be to press law enforcement agencies to award harsh penalties to the perpetrators who are now in custody so a precedent is set to deter barbaric acts in the future.

 

By removing the power trip that magnifies an audience to the crime, Pakistani society will be left with one less challenge: it can go back to treating rape with the focus it deserves, to get it securely out of the clutches of Zia’s poisonous laws and into a place conducive for women to claim public space without hostility. For that, however, Pakistan needs to learn to protect the weak more than it buffers up the strong.

The price of my child

The modifications outside my children’s school are seemingly significant: fortified walls, concrete barriers, barbed wire and the ageing sniper who is often caught scratching his ear, but the reality is different — the walls are just as penetrable and the children just as susceptible to a terror attack just like the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar was on that horrendous December day. Dropping them off at school knowing this is keeping with the Abrahamic tradition of sacrifice that I cannot fathom but participate in nonetheless. Day after day, morning after morning, my children are brought to the altar, led by a throbbing heart and two weary feet. Every afternoon they are led back home being spared.

 

Defeating terrorism is to hold firm to courage, to reject it in your core and to look it in the face even when you fear oblivion. Fear that your child carries the message that Pakistan aspires to be: prosperous, egalitarian, just and peaceful. The message we teach them about its secular founder and its democratic struggles. On a more human level, the fear of them scraped by the war of our times. The fear of their tears and pain on one hand and, on the other, the tender dreams of them making it big in the world and of doing their country proud.

 

We have no countryside to send our children to like the children of London in World War II. Even British Prime Minsiter Gordan Brown is now working closely with the Pakistani government to protect Pakistani schools from terrorists. This is heartening for Pakistani parents but how far does this go to contain extremism and deter attacks against schools? The war is everywhere in Pakistan. To isolate children from cities currently on the terrorist radar means to remove them from the benefits metropolises provide: education, exposure and experience. Immigration is only an option for those who have little ideological connection to this land or connection they can separate physically in any event.

 

Incidentally, the very thing that separates us from the animals — our ability to experience the reality of the hundreds of Pakistani children who died at the hands of terrorists only in the past few months and our ability to feel the terror of child activists like Malala — is the very thing that corrupts our courage. Our courage is the only weapon against terrorism. Courage comes at a cost. The cost of thinking of your children as not your own but your nation’s. It is a paradigm shift that requires superhuman faculties. Parents struggle with trying to cultivate it every morning at the school gates where snipers have ear itches.

 

At the rate educational institutions are being targeted in Pakistan, it is not just a probability anymore that something terrible may befall us if we stick it through; it is a possibility. This thought works to infect the spine of all positive human capabilities: creativity, self-expression, innovation and happiness. The terror creeps over everything beautiful, everything sacred. Children are not spared from the venom of the possible. After all, there is very little difference between real terror and one that is vividly imagined. I have had to answer, mutely, why the terrorists want to kill children and what if they are confronted, should they back down, fight or perhaps plead to be spared? Perhaps the most difficult of all questions was what the new average lifespan of Pakistani children is.

 

Medical science tells us there are far reaching effects of trauma on the developing young mind. Threat and perceived threat have that toxic ability to contaminate all initiative and sprit. My children make English composition sentences that more often are dark and morbid. In killing some of our children the terrorists have attempted to kill all of our children’s drive to take on the world. Children are magicians though and magicians believe in magic. In wondrous ways they come out of dark corners and claw back to vitality. They smile, they sing, they draw and they put up feisty arguments to have their fun. A child wants a quick end to crying and a slower end to laugher. This makes them the axis on which we pivot our philosophy on life.

 

“Let me tell you a riddle Mum,” my child said. “So imagine a terrorist pulls a gun to your head and asks you to close your eyes so he can shoot, what would you do to save yourself?” I struggled with this one on many levels. Eventually I gave up. “How do you save your life?” I asked. “You stop imagining it,” said my child.

Heera Mandi’s honour

Someone once said that Heera Mandi was the least hypocritical place in Pakistan, as if they were referring to a taskforce or a think tank. Everyone has an opinion on Heera Mandi, the red light district of Lahore, and lately politicians too have brought the word to our living rooms through prime time television. As many as these opinions are, only a few are formulated on a clear understanding of what really transpires in Heera Mandi. The judgements say more about the person spewing them than it does about the place. It is a real tragedy that ignorance is not punishable.

 

It started off with Altaf Hussain, the leader of the MQM, being offended by the PTI and referring to the party’s jalsas (rallies) as Heera Mandi. Imran Khan responded by saying that the women of Heera Mandi are more respectable than Altaf Hussain. There can be no confusion about the ghastliness of both comments, though varying in scale, because they both start with the premise that the honour of women who prostitute themselves is determined by these men and their opinions, be they high or low.

 

Even the biggest proponents of consensual sex cannot ignore the fact that institutionalised prostitution rarely has consent. When money is exchanged for sex, the act is bought by the man and therefore the service must be delivered. This is not just oppressive; it is criminal. Most research suggests that prostitution is a result of sexual slavery, human trafficking and is often associated with abuse and violence. It is among the most patriarchal aspects of human society, forcing some nations to outlaw it, like Sweden and Norway. It supports the notion that a man’s voracious sexual appetite is uncontainable so it is better that unchaste women have it acted out on them than chase women. The undeniable question remains: if it is not such a tragic thing then why is it confined to those with the least means? This is a highly lower class based phenomenon.

 

Given that these women are oppressed financially and legally, it only makes sense that prostitution carry such heavy consequences and social stigma. The fact that the majority of them are in their early years is a symptom of the fact that girls and women of this age range are among the most financially dependent demographic. The psychological effects of prostitution are numerous. These women usually suffer from PTSD, depression and mild to acute anxiety. The health implications need an entire book to do justice to them. Fawzia Saeed’s book, Taboo, can be a good start. HIV and other STDs are among the most prevalent in Heera Mandi. However, more importantly, this is perhaps the most hypocritical place because the men who visit are often the first to confine their wives and daughters to the four walls of their houses.

 

No one has a right to pass judgement on the hand that these women of Heera Mandi have been dealt. Philosophically, any woman, with the cosmic chance that they had been born there, would have been one. This, by extension, means any man’s mother or daughter. So, to unabashedly use Heera Mandi as a take-down on a political opponent that you despise is perhaps the most dehumanising thing to do, and is indicative of the depraved depths of our political discourse.

 

The point is that Heera Mandi is not fair game. It is a serious social condition in our nation that needs attention from the government, NGOs and civil society. It needs the kind of attention that does not punish those women in the bid to reform that society but that it provides them an alternative life to one they already are leading through economic and educational empowerment programmes. One fear is that with all this talk of Heera Mandi, the religious right, which is always hungry for cadavers, will rush to devour this area and bring down the morality judgement on it. The last thing these women need is for more of the world to banish it and look down on it, most of all those whose moral calling is to serve the oppressed.

 

Simone De Beauvoir, in her classic feminist text, The Second Sex, talks about how prostitution is based on the Aristotelian understanding of female nature being afflicted with a natural defectiveness. She refers to a woman’s otherness when trying to survive in the profession. Until our politicians can legally and economically provide rights to sex workers in Heera Mandi and elsewhere, they should not throw the words around to score points and chest thump. It is high time that we dismiss the need to drag women and their honour into public discourse. A woman’s honour is not transferable. It is purely her own domain based on her own private social and material conditions.