What killed Qandeel Baloch?

In our overwhelmingly patriarchal and misogynistic society, a male family member must kill the female, who has allegedly brought disgrace to family’s name, to restore the so-called honour of Family’s men.

Qandeel Baloch, who had been in a limelight due to her controversial videos, was murdered by her brother in a similar and “successful” attempt at protecting the family’s honour. This Pakistani man behaved like primitive paranoid tribal men, always worried about his self-conceited identity and who reacts aggressively upon confrontation with men from civilisation.

In Pakistan, women are still thought to be subordinate to men. From her birth a woman is considered to be a burden and her assets are calculated in terms of her power of reproduction and as an object of sexual satisfaction.

A man will be considered respectable if he is able to control the sexual behaviour of his wife, daughters and sisters. This is only possible if he is able to control their movements, limit their mobility and thereby reduce their interaction with strange men with whom they threaten to sully the family’s honour.

Women are denied their own identity. They are thought of and recognised as mothers, daughters and sisters never as individual persons. A woman is looked upon as a commodity going from one man’s house (her father’s) to another’s (her husband’s). This commodity must be protected to ensure it is delivered in prime form to its recipient. This leads the men in a family restricting the space of the women in the family. There are restrictions placed on their mobility, their behaviour and their activities to ensure they do not bring shame to the family.

Qandeel Baloch, a survivor of an abusive marriage, a mother of a child – and a woman who was taking charge of her sexuality renounced all these concepts. She was defiant and courageous. She contested and challenged the society’s norms and gender standards. Her activities, on a macro level, didn’t reflect her message much to the most of us but keeping her example on a micro level, she was an activist who resolutely challenged the misogynistic and patriarchal structures of ordinary families which she belonged to – where girls at tender ages are married off to abusive husbands and their dreams are belittled every time. She did not come from the elite, she was not educated in the best schools, she did not have the best-paid PR and marketing teams.

Still she was on her way to becoming a cultural icon. Qandeel had only just begun. She herself wasn’t clear on who she was. She had a long way to go, and if she hadn’t been killed for honour, she would’ve gone very far. Qandeel Baloch was on her way to becoming something from nothing.

“As women we must stand up for ourselves. As women we must stand up for justice. I believe I am a modern day feminist… I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM.”

“I am a social media sensation, I am a fashion icon,” she said. “I don’t know how many girls have felt support through my persona. I’m a girl power. So many girls tell me I’m a girl power, and yes, I am.”

Comments on her profile revealed how she was applauded as long as she was seen as a sex object but the moment she justified it on moral grounds, she was named and shamed.

But we as a society were equally accomplices in her murder. In her life, we produced “breaking news” on her scandals and controversies, we highlighted her bold acts in an extremely negative way. Doing this in an overwhelmingly extremist and conservative society means endangering somebody’s life.

What saddens me the most is that the hypocritical pseudo-liberal section of our society that scandalized Qandeel Baloch in her life and portrayed her image negatively in a society that deems honor killing a Nobel act, is now lionising her.

Your amusement took her life. You popularised a very negatively portrayed image of Qandeel and expected this sick society of accepting and respecting her?

On the other hand, Mufit Abdul Qavi He has warned that women who take on Clerics should keep Qandeel Baloch’s death in mind. Qandeel didn’t die a natural death, she was murdered. Saying these lines in this case means galvanizing this overwhelmingly misogynistic and religious fanatic society to kill girls like Qandeel or anyone who dares to challenge societal norms and traditions.

The same media will now lionise her! The hypocrisy of society will further be betrayed now when Baloch will be buried and candles will be lit in her memory but Qandeel’s profiles on social media forever will remind us of our injustice and hypocrisy. Her pictures will ask us and inquire what was her sin in this male dominated society.

We compelled her brother to kill her.

Hamza Rao

Hamza Rao

Hamza Rao is a member of the staff at Daily Pakistan. He can be reached at raohamzafree@gmail.com. He tweets at @HamzaRaoxxx