feminist before feminism
Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the audacious attack on Kamra
Airbase, it is still unclear whether the attack was in reaction to the
possibility of a military operation in North Waziristan.
A debate has already been
underway in the country around these attacks. Apart from the belief this was
an expression of defiance against the likely military operation in North
Waziristan, there is a view that it could be a reaction of militants against
the air force which has caused major harm to the militants in the tribal
Chief of the Army Staff
General, Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, has already hinted at the use of force
against the militants in his Independence Day speech at Kakul Military
Academy, Abbottabad. He described the war on terror as “our own war and a
just war too” in so many words. He also acknowledged the difficulties in
fighting one’s own people, but said “no state can afford a parallel
system of governance and militias,” and asked the nation to stand united or
face the risk of a “civil war situation”.
The TTP spokesperson has
again threatened that the TTP would fight back strongly with its suicide
bombers if the military carries out an operation in North Waziristan. He
claimed that the TTP attacked the Kamra airbase to avenge the killing of
Osama bin Laden and Baitullah Mehsud.
Saleem Safi, senior
security analyst, says North Waziristan is a stronghold of the TTP and other
militant organisations. “They can launch preemptive attacks to put pressure
on the military before the operation. It is true that they could not launch a
major attack during the last one and half years or so against security
installations, but they were busy preparing suicide bombers and propagating
their philosophy,” he says.
North Waziristan is one of
the most difficult terrains and it has been a centre for militants since the
Afghan war. Locals of the area have strong affiliations with the militants.
“To carry out a military operation in this area will be a difficult
task,” Safi says, adding the TTP is not an organised militia anymore. “It
is a combination of people from different backgrounds with different
philosophies and priorities. It is true that religious tribal people, who
have strong links with Afghan jihad, are a driving force behind the TTP, but
sectarian organistaions like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are also there to support
Safi thinks all the
activities are not carried out with the consent of the main leadership and
different groups within the TTP launch attacks according to their priorities.
“The LeJ and TTP Darra Adam Khel would always attack Shia community. In
Bajaur, their priority is to destroy schools, while the TTP Swat is a fierce
enemy of shrines and attack them. But it is true that the present TTP
leadership is strongly anti-Shia.”
He says that drone attacks
have killed several top leaders of the TTP and it has become very tough for
them to coordinate. “Military operations in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand and
Khyber Agency have also weakened them to a great extent. So, we can say they
are a weak organisation now as far as infrastructure and network is
concerned, but their extreme philosophy and anti-America slogans have become
very popular and they have even penetrated in the mainstream organisations.”
Safi says the TTP has
successfully created its collaborators and informers in different
organisations and departments with a good number of sleeping supporters
everywhere in the country. “We can say that its capability of launching big
attacks in settled areas has diminished to a greater extent, but its
capability of launching small attacks in big numbers has increased
It is also believed that
the TTP has already shifted major portion of its infrastructure and
leadership to Orakzai, Mohmand and South Waziristan. Some experts believe a
military operation in North Waziristan can be helpful for the TTP to widen
its network as it can push Hafiz Gul Bahadur to the TTP’s camp. He still
has a peace pact with government of Pakistan intact and an operation in North
Waziristan can be fatal for the future of this peace accord.
“After drones, Pakistan
Air Force has caused major harm to the TTP’s infrastructure. It is too
tough for the TTP to attack air force jets so the only way to take revenge
from air force is to attack its installations,” an insider of the TTP tells
TNS. He says that Punjabi Taliban mainly control attacks in cities.
Ayaz Wazir, former
ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan who belongs to tribal areas, says that
it would be tough to pinpoint the exact motives behind the Kamra attack and
the Shia killings, but one thing is clear these attacks are reaction to the
war on terror. “We need to look into how militants succeed in attacking the
security installations. Is it possible for people sitting in North Waziristan
to know which plane is parked in which hanger? We need to find insiders in
all departments who help these militants. We need to find the causes of their
Wazir says, “If we want
to be part of war on terror, we need to be sincere to the cause of this war.
Our security establishment, the government and people need to be on the same
page if we want to win this war. But, our words and actions are contradictory
which create confusion among masses and allies in the war.
“Have we ever thought how
come an educated young man from Khyber Agency has become chief of al-Qaeda in
Pakistan. When our army would attack its own people without taking nation
into confidence, it can never win the war,” he concludes.
Helen Gurley Brown,
legendary editor of Cosmopolitan for more than thirty years and still at the
helm of its international editions when she died, was a larger than life
figure. Her impact extended far beyond her magazine to the cultural life of
the swinging sixties. It is no wonder then that her death, at 90, on August
12, 2012, has generated wider ripples and an unceasing stream of tributes
from the aligned worlds of media, advertising and publishing.
Born to a family of modest
means in Arkansas in 1922, she was exposed to early privations, at 10, when
her father, a school teacher, suddenly died in a lift accident. This
unforeseen and tragic death tipped the family into obscure poverty, further
compounded by Helen’s elder sister contracting polio which left her
paralysed for the rest of her life.
With two children to feed,
her mother had a hard time of it, eking out a living by tagging shop shelves
in local stores. This had profound influence on Helen’s thinking which
seeded in her the notion of raising children as an unnecessary encumbrance
which was to show up in the way she helmed and directed Cosmopolitan (The
Cosmo Girl package was gutted of the ingredient of motherhood). This also
meant that Helen was forced to prune her own academic ambitions by taking up
a succession of secretarial jobs — seventeen by her own account — despite
being a high school valedictorian.
It was, however, at Foote,
Cone & Belding, an advertising agency, where she found her métier as a
copywriter. In time, her reputation as a sharp copywriter led to her being
snapped up by the rival advertising company Kenyon and Eckhardt at double the
salary, making her the highest paid female in advertising (those watching the
US drama series Mad Men are likely to find unmistakable echoes of Helen’s
career trajectory in Peggy Ouslon’s rise from secretarial job to being a
copywriter. In the most recent season she, like Helen, gets poached by a
rival advertising company at a higher salary).
In 1959, she married David
Brown, a successful movie producer, which was to catalyse her rise. In 1962,
at the urging of her husband, she wrote her first book Sex and the Single
Girl which was an overnight sensation (The book, like Mad Men, was to form
the template for the US TV series of the nineties Sex and the City).
On the back of the success
of her first book, she was approached by the Cosmopolitan management to turn
around the struggling magazine. In the event, she took the job with great
gusto and changed the magazine and the prevailing culture of the time for
In her inaugural editorial,
she sketched out the contours of Cosmo Girl and future direction of the
magazine by tilting the magazine towards “grown-up girl, interested in
whatever can give you a richer, more exciting, fun-filled, friend-filled,
man-loved kind of life!” In time, this became the ruling philosophy of the
magazine which rose in circulation on the back of these neatly packaged
aspirations of young girls.
Alongside her influential
editorship of Cosmo, Helen continued to produce a stream of books which
ploughed in the furrow of advice manual pioneered in the first book.
Yet her strident advocacy
of career-oriented girl intent on having it all attracted opposition of
different strands of feminist movement. In the 1980s and 90s, she also
courted yet more controversy for downplaying the perils of HIV which fed into
the already existing hostility. Helen’s response to the early feminist
onslaught was that she was feminist much before feminism became a fashion in
the sense that she was instrumental in encouraging women to be themselves,
career-oriented and fun-loving.
If this was not feminism
then it was feminism, she often retorted in her defence (Helen’s first book
came out before Betty Freidan’s path-breaking Feminist Mystique’s arrival
on the feminist scene). This debate continues till this day with Helen’s
place in the feminist pantheon in perpetual adjustment.
Some critics have called
Helen’s feminism as the feminism of typists, sales girls and office girls
as opposed to the politically charged feminism of bra-burning well-healed and
ivory towered vintage.
In 2009, Helen was the
subject of a full length biography by an academic, Jennifer Scanlon, titled
Bad Girls Go Everywhere. This first academic reconsideration attempted to
restore Helen’s place and influence on her times. In the last years of her
life, she donated 30 million dollars to Stanford and Columbia universities to
set up David and Helen Brown Institute for Media Innovation to pursue
innovative journalism. Her husband died in 2010.
It’s all about
asking the right questions — the questions we are not asking, or we are not
allowed to ask, or we don’t care enough.
Fed on a staple of lies,
half-truths, and twisted logic in matters of religion as much as that of
statehood, for generations, we have come to accept everything and believe
nothing. We are not sure if our armed forces are left with any resolve or
capability to protect us from an external threat. We are unsure if the
highest court in the land can dispense justice. We are not sure if the
religiuous figure or sect we follow is the religion as it was revealed, or a
corrupted copy. We don’t know if there is anything at all our government
machinery is capable of doing right. And we suspect our elected
representatives do nothing in parliament other than exchanging favours and
But we accept the armed
forces as our saviours and true patriots. We continue to respect the courts
even as we drag them into muck on a daily basis. We don’t know what Islam
is from the many and contradictory interpretations we grow up on, but we
instantly recognise what Islam isn’t and are ready to kill, maim and burn
anyone or anything that a half-wit points his finger at. We are happy to
bribe our way through government offices and find it easy to live with human
rights abuses on a daily basis. And we continue to support a political party
with corrupt and disgraceful leaders at its head, in the name of democracy,
liberalism, revolution, or some such fancy concept we don’t understand at
We badmouth, we taunt, we
joke, but we don’t question anyone in authority. Not the news media, not
social media, not political leaders, not individuals.
A glaring example was two
deadly attacks on two different groups of Pakistanis on the same day. It was
the end of Ramzan and perhaps we were too tired of our eat-pray-sleep-watch
TV routine to notice it then. Now that we have amassed Allah’s blessings in
the holy month and celebrated Eid in the way prescribed by our media and
various advertisers, perhaps it’s time to reflect how we took the two
incidents, and what it says about us.
Pakistan Air Force base
Minhas was attacked by army uniform-wearing men. Within hours we knew how
many attackers were there, who they were, what route they used, and what the
base security detail’s response was, thanks to the near perfect media
handling of PAF. We soon knew who their sympathisers are and some of them
were arrested from various cities the same day, thanks to the efficiency of
the interior ministry. We also knew from the start that it was a ‘failed’
attack as all the intruders were killed in a protracted gunbattle that
produced a single martyr and an injured hero on the other side. But we
continued to ask more questions: How did they manage to breach the outer
cordon of security? Was it a security failure, or a successful defence? What
is PAF doing to secure its bases from future attacks? How did we let them
attack the same target thrice? ... These questions filled the better part of
the day’s news bulletins, and of course our conversations.
The other incident that was
drowned out in this detailed line of enquiry was an attack by army
uniform-wearing men on the passengers of a bus convoy. Twenty civilians were
selected on the basis of information in their national identity cards, were
lined up with their hands tied, and executed. We got the basic information
and considered it enough.
Could this attack be called
‘successful’ because the attackers killed leisurely and no one on their
side was hurt? Who were they? Where did they come from and where did they go?
What makes army uniform so popular with terrorists? Was it a security failure
on part of the state? How did we let them attack and kill the same people, in
the same manner, three times in six months? What are the dozens of
intelligence agencies doing if they still can’t find a lead? How would the
state avoid a recurrence of this grisly incident? Who needs more protection,
trained and armed soldiers or unarmed civilians? And which is the bigger
story: a ‘failed’ attack on a military base or a ‘successful’ one on
Issue here is not that we
don’t have answers; the issue is we never ask. Until one day the murderers
will stop a train or an aeroplane carrying your loved ones, and mine. Only,
it’ll be too late to ask then.
journalists land into trouble when they transgress certain ideological or
geographical boundaries? That’s not always the case. Today, it’s not
necessary for them to travel to lawless zones to risk their security. They
are equally vulnerable to dangers even within the confines of their homes if
they care less about their security in the virtual world.
This is the gist of a
recent report commissioned by the Internews Center for Innovation &
Learning and conducted by Bytes for All (B4A), a Pakistani human rights
organisation with a focus on information and communication technologies.
The report titled
“Digital Security and Journalists: A Snapshot of Awareness and Practice in
Pakistan” reveals a widespread lack of awareness of the security risks
Pakistani journalists and bloggers face in their online activities without
being aware of who’s following them and for what purpose.
Based on interviews of
several journalists and bloggers, the report findings suggest that though a
vast majority of journalists uses Internet in their work and take basic
precautions such as installing anti-virus software and using strong
passwords, they were largely unaware of secure tools such as IP blockers,
which can be set up to block access to one’s website from computers or
networks that have certain Internet protocol (IP) addresses, such as from
particular government entities, and virtual private network (VPN) services.
Many of them face issues
such as having their emails intercepted or data stolen, having their websites
attacked or hacked and having their identities exposed against their wishes.
The obvious purpose of carrying out the study is to highlight the importance
of security in using email services, running websites, interacting on social
media websites and sharing data, sometimes unnecessarily, with larger
audience and later on train journalists to take care of this aspect.
No doubt this training is
essential for every person who logs on to Internet, but the reason to focus
on journalists first was that their unsafe online practices can harm
whistleblowers or their informants, believes Shahzad Ahmad, Country Director
Bytes for All, Pakistan. “If the password of one person in a network is
taken over, he/she can make the whole network vulnerable.”
Imran Naeem Ahmad,
co-founder and managing editor of website JournalismPakistan. com, is one
such victim who was not ready for a hacker’s attack. The website was hacked
in June 2012 and it took them by surprise. “We had never thought this could
ever happen to us, after all hackers often target mega websites.”
They were staring at a
blank page on the screens for a good 12 hours and the attacker had deleted
all the content. Fortunately, they had back-up of all data and were able to
get the website back fairly quickly.
Imran Naeem shares it with
TNS that “the hacker then threatened to do it again, making his intentions
clear by sending us a message through our website after we were back.” He
strongly believes it was not a random action and neither was it the act of
some “bored teenager.” Indeed, JournalismPakistan.com was the calculated
target of a cyber terrorist, a virtual mercenary. It was intended, he adds.
“We have our suspicions
of course as to who could have engineered such a cowardly deed and why. The
list is surprisingly short. We have already taken steps to ensure that it
does not happen again.”
Imran Naeem has made
passwords complex and taken some other precautionary measures to avoid such
attacks in future. But the way hackers operate and the advanced tools they
have to achieve their end calls for a more professional handling of the
menace. The responses gathered from around 80 journalists and bloggers
contacted during the study suggest the respondents are least equipped to
counter the threats they face.
These respondents were
selected using convenience sampling, on the basis of their importance in the
media world and the blogosphere, says Shahzad. He adds extreme care was taken
to ensure gender and regional diversity, and national scope among
Contacts were made through
telephone, email and various sources within the journalist community. A total
of 52 people (65 per cent of those initially contacted) completed
questionnaires. Seventy per cent of the respondents were working journalists
and the remaining 30 per cent identified themselves as bloggers.
A very few of them were
aware of the modus operandi of cyber attackers who use spy softwares such as
trojans, keyloggers etc to hack email accounts and websites and commit
identity theft. They were not aware that careless attitude in the cyberspace
can cause severe harm to one’s professional and personal reputation.
Shahzad states it can be a software (sent to you via email or transferred
during downloading sessions) or a hardware device that can record the real
time activity of a computer user including the keyboard keys they press. They
are hidden within the system and a non-techie user cannot find out easily
that his/her online activity is being logged/recorded by someone sitting at a
Such softwares, he says,
work like viruses that infiltrate your computer system and take over all the
resources and digital assets that you have. They can come in via an
attachment or transferred via different downloading websites e.g. movies or
software portals, which though offer you free downloads but may be spreading
such kind of malicious softwares.
The most troubling thing is
that once a keylogger is installed on your computer, the person sitting at a
remote computer can use your computer for any unlawful activities, Shahzad
says. “For example, spamming is a crime in several countries so someone can
use your computer power, and bandwidth without your knowledge to spam
someone, whom you even don’t know.”
Unfortunately, there are no
cyber laws in Pakistan and hence no deterrence against unwanted online
activities. That’s one of the major reasons why hackers operate with
impunity and the poor victim gets no relief at all.
Muhammad Adeel, a
Lahore-based expert in network security, believes identity theft is frequent
because people share too much personal information on social media websites
and store user names, passwords and other personal information in memory
offered by email accounts. “It’s easy for hackers to retrieve passwords
by doing guesswork on the basis of personal information.”
However, Shahzad contests
this assertion, saying strong password is just the first line of defense in
the cyberspace. “There is no guesswork involved as there are softwares to
harvest passwords. Digital security experts suggest that the time of
passwords is over and now everyone should have pass phrase and that too
should be at least 20 characters long.”
He suggests that passwords
should also be changed frequently, adding those who want to take over your
passwords can also use keyloggers that can send your personal information
across. “So it is fairly easy that if you are not observing secure
practices to access your digital assets (emails, website, blog or other
documents) it can be at risk.”
Shahzad says journalists
can also be victims of cyber stalking on social networks. Women and young
girls are especially the target of this practice and that is why Bytes for
All under its “Take Back The Tech” campaign works with young girls to
train them on how to be safe and secure online.
There are several cases of
women and girls, who had to face miserable consequences due to their poor
digital security. Some of the Pakistan-specific cases are available at https:
One such case is that of a
female human rights activist who was harassed online when her profile was
created on a fake fan page. It had her name and her pictures but she was
described as a prostitute in that fake account. The girl had to write to the
Facebook complaint centre that helped her at a later stage in taking it off.
Similarly, several girls complained about their fake profiles on Facebook in
especially the popular anchors of TV talk shows, are highly vulnerable to
cyber stalking. They must constantly look out for fake pages in their names
often carrying their engineered pictures and act before the damage is done,
says an Internet addict, who does not want to be named.
Recently there was
a debate in the National Assembly about failure of the provinces to legislate
to safeguard child rights following the 18th Constitutional Amendment which
has made child rights a provincial subject. A parliamentary caucus has been
established to look into the situation and make recommendations.
Following the 18th
Constitutional Amendment, the Concurrent Legislative List has been deleted,
leading to confusion within the relevant ministries, departments as well as
among other stakeholders. The civil society welcomed the 18th Amendment and
started actively coordinating with concerned provincial government
departments for related legislation. However, the devolution does not absolve
the federal government and federal legislature of its responsibilities
towards children in light of the Constitution and Pakistan’s international
obligations — the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other UN
and ILO Conventions.
Article 25(3) of the
constitution recognizes the special right of protection for children due to
their vulnerability and states, “Nothing in this article shall prevent the
state from making special provision for the protection of women and
children.” Similarly, according to the amended Article 142(b), the federal
legislature has the power to make laws with respect to criminal law, criminal
procedure and evidence.
On the authority of these
articles it can be argued that notwithstanding promulgation of the 18th
Amendment and the consequent legislative devolution to provincial assemblies
with regard to child welfare matters, the federal legislature cannot be
prevented from making special provisions for children and from enacting
legislation relating to children’s rights.
A concern raised by the
civil society was about the role of federal government in maintaining a
minimum standard. Who will ensure that children living in all the provinces
and regions have the same rights?
Child protection and
welfare legislation has been introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but there is
none in Balochistan, Fata or even the Islamabad Capital Territory. There is
nobody at the federal level with a statutory status to work for the promotion
and protection of child rights and raise such issues and concerns with the
provinces and regions. A National Commission on the Rights of Children (NCRC)
Bill is in the pipeline for the last three years without any progress though.
Having a look at the state
of child rights in Pakistan in light of indicators like Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) or the benchmarks set under the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC) or even the targets set under the National Plan of
Action for Children 2006, the results are depressing. Flood emergencies in
the recent years also added to the already complex challenges of conflict and
terrorism with poor or no implementation of existing laws.
Unfortunately in Pakistan
there has been an increase in the incidents of child labour. One of less
acknowledged but potentially worst form of child labour that is rampant in
the country is child domestic labour. More than 20 cases of torture to death
and lifelong injuries of child domestic workers were reported by the media
from January 2010 to date starting from the famous Shazia Masih case in
Punjab, being the province
from where the highest number of deaths and disabilities through torture of
the child workers had been reported, must respond to the situation
immediately. Similarly, the federal government should also realise its
responsibility and check the menace of child domestic labour.
Another important strategy
to eliminate child labour can be the implementation of Article 25-A of the
Constitution whereby education has been made a fundamental right for all
children from five to sixteen years of age. There is need to enact the Right
to Free and Compulsory Education Bills at the provincial and ICT levels.
Similarly, a Right to Free and Compulsory Education Regulation needs to be
introduced for Fata. The progress on this front is very slow again.
Violence against children
is also widespread. The unfortunate and terrible incidents of suicides among
children and corporal punishment in schools and madrassas are some of the
horrible examples of increasing trends of violence against children.
The Prohibition of Corporal
Punishment Bills both at the federal and provincial level highlight how much
importance is given to this important issue by the legislators.
Similarly, at the policy
level no concrete steps were taken for the implementation of the
recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which had
called for, among other steps, approval of a national child protection policy
and related laws, increase in resource allocation for health, education and
child protection, establishment of a national commission on the rights of
children and inclusion of child rights in the training curricula of all
professional training colleges and academies.
The writer is a development
practitioner and tweets @amahmood72
with beards approach our Supreme Court often, it is rare that a model/Bollywood
diva’s legs force Lady Justice to peek. Ms Katrina Kaif’s legs, in ways
she may never have imagined, have made it to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The issue in question: obscenity on television. The purported evidence, as
ever, is eye-catching.
Obscenity, as Manto’s
spirit would testify, is hard to define but is often tailored to convenience.
How does one define obscenity especially when one Qazi Hussain Ahmad and a
retired justice are complaining about it?
“I know it when I see
it” is one of the most celebrated and ambiguous sentences ever uttered by a
judge. Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)
pronounced these words in a moment of limited eloquence, while trying to
define hard-core pornography. Could the same test be treated as valid for
“obscenity”? If your answer is yes, then you aren’t helping. By asking
others to rely on your reaction you are conceding that, in an overwhelming
majority of cases, obscenity is highly subjective.
Another major problem: how
do we come up with a shared standard for “obscenity” without curbing free
The fact that the Supreme
Court has taken suo motu notice of the issue complicates matters. Usually the
“state-action” requirement means that people aggrieved by the state’s
action against allegedly obscene material approach the courts to claim
redress. In the weighing scales are considerations of freedom of expression
too. Here the Supreme Court is acting on its own. The issue should never have
been before the Supreme Court. Even if people approached it, the Court should
have exercised restraint. The pitfalls are too great. Why should an all-male
bench from one of the most conservative professions in the world get to
define a word that requires the voice of the people?
The Court already seems to
have accepted that there is obscenity on TV requiring a crackdown of sorts.
This, I submit, is unfortunate. Of course obscenity should be regulated and
it doesn’t always fall under the definition of constitutionally protected
speech but it is not ideal for courts to jump upon an opportunity to get
involved with these matters. The relevant legislation (PEMRA Ordinance, 2002)
and Code of Conduct prohibit obscenity. They also provide for a complaint
mechanism that anyone (including people like Qazi Hussain) can use to bring
certain matters to the attention of Council of Complaints in each province
and the federal capital.
Those approaching the
Supreme Court with this could have adopted a more democratic way but they
chose not to. Why? My feeling is because they did not want to be losers in a
democracy and feared that they may not get their way. Hence the natural
choice: approach a more conservative forum — the Supreme Court.
Courts in the US have
defined obscenity only as a matter of last resort. The “Miller test”
refers to patently offensive sexual conduct as among the ingredients as well
as contemporary community standards. Furthermore, the work (taken as a whole)
has to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Pakistani courts have stressed community standards too without emphasizing
the sexual conduct requirement. The bar here will be lower. In many cases
Pakistani and Indian courts have followed standards laid down in the colonial
era — standards that didn’t trust the capacity or ability of local
communities to absorb unconventional modes of expression. But it is about
time we move on from that. Katrina Kaif’s legs will not cause the collapse
of this society. Many other things will and maybe our Honourable Supreme
Court should pay attention to those. This country did not break up in two and
its integrity is not threatened by female flesh.
Violent images without
prior warning probably do more harm to susceptible viewers than female flesh.
A case for a proper “ratings” mechanism is stronger than one for
identifying obscenity. And no, the rating mechanism isn’t the apex
court’s job either. It is up to us to exert pressure on PEMRA and the
channels till they respond. We may not always get our way but that is
democracy. Anyone who wants to escape “obscene” ads on TV can simply
switch to religious channels during ads. I mean where does this stop? Will
reproductive health advice be considered obscene too? There are people who
want that. And they aren’t afraid of approaching the Supreme Court either.
What about a woman’s
choice to wear a sleeveless shirt to a TV show? What if she wears an outfit
that completely covers her body but shows off her curves? What about the
hypocrisy of not applying the same standards to men? Is a shot of actor Abid
Ali sitting on a charpoy in a vest smoking hookah in a dhoti obscene or not?
And I hope no one thinks that the solution is to ban it all.
My point, I suppose, is
that there are no easy and clear answers. But three gentlemen on a bench, no
matter how learned, are not the best source of an answer. A better answer can
and will come forward if you and I join in the conversation and make our
views known. Those who don’t want to watch a Veet ad or a couple holding
hands can simply change the channel. If a family isn’t comfortable watching
something it has a simple choice — don’t watch it. The rest of the
country doesn’t have to suffer. By entertaining such petitions, the Supreme
Court is treading a dangerous path. If we don’t speak now, our voices might
be gagged for good.
The writer is a Barrister
and has a Masters degree from Harvard Law School. The views presented here
are strictly his own. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @wordoflaw
We are pleased to announce
the commencement of a new column Sceptic’s Diary by Waqqas Mir from this
week. Happy reading -- Ed