Why, As a Feminist, I Support Jibran Nasir
By Bareha Abbas, a cautiously optimistic citizen of Pakistan
CW: Sexual abuse, abuse.
Behind closed doors, out in the open, or on the streets, killed for the sake of honour or buried alive, a woman is constantly reminded of her place as a second-class citizen in Pakistan. “Women are entitled to all of the same rights as men and no country can progress without the full participation of women in commercial and public life”. This preamble to the section of Jibran’s manifesto sheds light upon the extremely important issue of the rights of women in the land of the pure.
“Women are entitled to all of the same rights as men and no country can progress without the full participation of women in commercial and public life.”
— Jibran Nasir’s manifesto
Jibran Nasir, a lawyer, a human rights activist and a feminist, has been under a lot of fire lately for speaking up for the oppressed. He is someone who has left no stone unturned in trying to empower the sections of our society which have largely been silenced by those in charge. Jibran advocates for equal opportunities in the social, political and legal arenas for all. He does not refrain from constantly challenging the status quo, despite knowing that his life may be on the line.
Renowned television personality Orya Maqbool Jan, on a live talk show, very nonchalantly stated that sexual abuse is the responsibility of a woman since it largely depends on provocation by the woman. It is pitiful that Jibran had to point out that it is unfair to lay the burden of the very pressing issue of sexual abuse onto women and how this statement represents an extremely dangerous and regressive manner of thinking. The fact that we have historically limited our women to the confines of ‘chaar diwari’ largely undermines their potential as individuals who can positively contribute to society, if nurtured in the right way. There is, of course, no doubt that the bane of issues such as sexual abuse falls on society as a whole. However, it is disappointing to see that a country like Pakistan needs individuals like Jibran to correct those who are classified as the ‘educated elite’ of this country.
It often makes me wonder, where exactly did we go wrong as a nation? What turn of events got my fellow countrymen filled with such hatred for the other 51% of the population? It is refreshing to see however, that in a country like Pakistan, where politicians often make headlines for passing derogatory remarks on their female colleagues, a handful such as Jibran are highly critical of the system of oppression upheld by men. He conducts himself differently. He firmly believes that the insecurity of men is what hinders the dissipation of God-given and constitutional rights to women.
Once, when asked about his association with the often-misunderstood term “feminism”, Jibran said “I do believe in the equality of rights and opportunities for all. If that is what defines feminism, then I am proud to say that I am one”. Jibran believes that individuals should have the right to raise their voices on issues that pertain to them. He insists that it is about time that men take a backseat when a discourse that doesn’t involve them is taking place, rather than poking their nose in every matter. Jibran’s values stand in direct contrast with the agenda and mentality most Pakistani politicians champion and promote. He is unapologetically critical of what surrounds him.
“I do believe in the equality of rights and opportunities for all. If that is what defines feminism, then I am proud to say that I am one”.
— Jibran Nasir
Jibran believes that there is a need to educate the masses in a bottoms-up approach where instructing at grassroots level, primarily via schools, becomes extremely important while helping the population detach itself from the bigotry that has been instilled within, and aggressively reinforced over the decades by the Pakistani society. He feels that it is time for women to be given a voice and be provided a legitimate platform to raise the issues that pertain to them. He believes there is a need for legislation where election results might be potentially invalidated in case women’s votes are less than 30% of the total votes cast. He desires to fight for rights for women in cases of divorce and child custody to be on par with men as well as better enforcement of laws against sexual harassment of women. He firmly believes that these actions would ultimately aid the state in functioning much more effectively.
He believes there is a need for legislation where election results might be potentially invalidated in case women’s votes are less than 30% of the total votes cast.
This is why on this election day, I vote for Jibran Nasir. This election day, I vote for someone who is Hum Main Se Aik.
May July the 25th be the day the people and their interests truly win. A day for the greater good of our country.