By Maryam Iraj
The #MeToo movement has become an irrefutable force not only in American culture but all across the world, and recently it has hit Pakistan with a force unprecedented. No offence to the spirit of this moment. I fully agree and endorse the #MeToo campaign to voice our experiences. But it has its own demons. So, let us deal with those:
- Females who get harassed in Pakistan on regular basis have little or no access to internet. Neither they have means nor the skills to use it. So, #MeToo is not standing up for those who deserve our attention and legal help.
- With #MeToo, the alleged culprit directly becomes the subject of public wrath without being proven guilty by the law. From public accusations to media trials, the alleged sex-offender suffers from the penalization to everyone’s benefit—yes, benefit. Media and NGOs are always after such a juicy story to sell and once they get hold of it, they squeeze it well.
Same is the case with the story of Shafi and Zafar. Sadly, very few in the media took a stance, and rest just debated who is right and who is wrong, which can’t be decided by anyone but court.
Lately, with Shafi and Zafar’s scandal, #MeToo picked up its momentum in our society. I won’t debate the philosophical setbacks of this movement but how fragile and vulnerable it can get in the hands of those who exploit it, let us explore that.
The timeline of Shafi and Zafar’s relationship is very interesting and shall reveal a lot:
The Shafi uploads a picture of herself and the accused on her official Facebook page, which is now deactivated, from what seems to be a party hosted by the latter for his wife, Ayesha Fazli, at their private residence.
Meesha then posts another picture on her now deactivated official Instagram account with fashion designer, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin (HSY), and Hair Stylist, Juju Haider. According to Meesha’s caption credit, the picture was taken by Ali.
Few months later in July, Shafi and Zafar attend a private screening of a film. So far, their relationship is steady and firm as evident from the picture.
Shafi post another picture on her now deactivated Instagram account of her with Zafar, fashion designer Kamiar Rokhni, and HSY at Lux Style Award.
Same month later, in August, she is spotted once again with the accused Zafar and Ali Kazmi in Toronoto. This is her post from her deactivated Instagram account. Bring a women, I can’t imagine to chat, laugh,pose and post with my accuser.
Mahmood Rahman, Meesha’s husband is allegedly hired by Zafar as his sound engineer for a concert in Toronto.
Couple of the accused and the accuser is seen once again in Hum Style Award. Both performed separately at Hum Style Awards, Meesha posts a picture from the rehearsals which also includes Zafar.
21 December 2017:
Shafi attends a jam session at Zafar’s residence’s basement with a group of musicians and singers in advance of a concert they are to perform together. It is allegedly at this jam session, according to an interview with Meesha, that a second and final incident of harassment occurred. Details of the first instance of harassment are unknown.
This Jam session video of Shafi and Zafar was first aired by the famous anchorperson Mubasher Lucman in his signature programe, Khara Sach, which was later on picked by the international media, particularly by Indian. Pertinent to note here that amidst this rallying cry of sexual assault, it was Mubasher Lucman who came up with a substantial evidence to educate his viewers over this much-hyped #MeToo affair. It’s always easy to swim with the currents, but he got the guts to swim against them.
Without being judgmental, Lucman showed what was relevant, true, and of great help to legal counsels of both parties:
December 23, 2017:
Meesha performs with her signature ease and poise at a concert in Islamabad. Ali performs at the same event independently, but they both come together at the end to perform.
The same night of the concert Meesha tweets and posts a picture from the concert. The tweet has been deleted recently.
Both Shafi and Zafar independently attend a private party by a fashion designer in Lahore. Eye witness accounts from those present, who spoke to a national daily, revealed that the two were seen dancing and giggling together.
April 19, 2018:
Sharing this because I believe that by speaking out about my own experience of sexual harassment, I will break the culture of silence that permeates through our society. It is not easy to speak out.. but it is harder to stay silent. My conscience will not allow it anymore #MeToo pic.twitter.com/iwex7e1NLZ
— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) April 19, 2018
On 19 April, 2018 Shafi drops this bombshell on her twitter account and gets the instant fame.
Zafar, took to Twitter instantly and replied in a dignified way to take Shafi to court.
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 19, 2018
Mcgowen is the women who is instrumental in bringing the Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, down.
It is clear that with this one tweet Shafi became the part of international Twittrati.
A heroine for our times. I stand with Meesha Shafi. https://t.co/ddWbzKdjSx
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) April 21, 2018
25 April 2018:
Legal team of @itsmeeshashafi confirms the receipt of legal notice, sent by Ali Zafar, however, dispels its contents in entirety, as being false. Allegations of sexual harassment against Ali Zafar are based on truth thus the issue of defamation doesnot arise at all.@nighatdad
— Pansota (@Pansota1) April 25, 2018
On April 25, 2018, Shafi is served with a legal notice and her counsel, Pansota, confirms.
According to a new poll of 6,251 adults released by the Pew Research Center, 31% of respondents say that women making false claims about being sexually harassed or assaulted appear to be a major problem in today’s workplace.
A famous Swedish theater director, Benny Fredriksson, committed suicide on the false allegations of sexual assault.
Read the following:
According to the Pew research, there’s no gender divide among those who believe that false reports are a major problem: 31% of respondents is split equally between men and women.
Being a women, I am extremely sensitive towards this issue but won’t let it be hijacked by those who try to manipulate it for their discrete gains.