During a current affairs TV show last Friday, I for the first time personally experienced what it takes to face an aggressive, violent misogynist. Not that one had not come across misogyny before, it was still appalling to be in a same room with the violent patriarch and be at the receiving end of his verbal abuse and physical assault. Confession: I did not submit to it neither took it silently. That’s precisely what shocked him even more.

The debate had to be about the recent spate of honour killings by killing and burning women alive. Panelists on the show besides me were a lawyer from Qaumi Watan Party (QWO), Barrister Masroor Shah, Fayazul Hassan Chauhan from PTI and Senator Hamdullah from JUI-F. Things were going all right until Barrister Masroor taunted the religious elite sitting in the Council of Islamic Ideology, especially its politically appointed Chair Maulana Shirani who comes from the same party as of Sen. Hamdullah and reportedly shares a special relationship with him. Masroor’s rabble-rousing jibe did its job and hit the Senator hard enough to provoke him. At one point the Senator threatened to beat Masroor and even advanced towards him. But he chose not to. Masroor was a man you know!

Nadia Mirza, the anchor of the program, had to announce a break at this point so the calm could be restored. And she did restore it. After the break on my turn, I had just started speaking and was not even able to complete my first sentence that the Senator interrupted. I protested but he went on and on with extremely rude language. Only to be responded with equally rude language. That shocked him. He was so dazed on hearing a woman responding to him in an equally loud voice and in exactly the same tone as of him, that he was forced to say, “You are behaving like a husband” and “You should better remain a woman”. Meaning thereby, I should have taken his aggression with timid submissiveness.

What followed was extremely disturbing show of misogyny and violent masculinity. He abused and abused and abused. All his gender-based abuses were returned to him reminding him of the same gender that his mother and daughter would have. Every expletive targeting my body parts was returned to him reminding the body parts of the woman who had given birth to him through the same body parts. Too difficult to take, I agree. Even for my feminist friends, it was a bit too much.

Targeting another woman in response to someone’s misogynist remarks is bizarre. If the Senator had ovaries and breasts, he could understand and feel the retort. Alas, it is his mother who has them. And he would only understand the respect for ovaries when reminded of his mother’s ovaries. He had to be reminded of the severity of rape threats when he said he would strip my pants down and mother’s too. He would surely understand it when reminded of his mother, his daughter, his sister, his wife – all very dear relationships, all very dear and ‘respectable’ women around him. Because they are not just ‘women’ for him, they are those relationships. Just that. A woman is respect worthy for him only if she is his mother. The moment her garb of motherhood is thrown off, and she becomes Marvi Sirmed, she becomes a ‘whore’ (he used Urdu/Punjabi alternative to it, which my editor won’t let go here), a slut, and a lowly woman with no honour, the one whose pants could be stripped off in streets. That’s exactly what he said he would do with me.

That was not the end of that episode. When I kept returning his expletives, he at one point said, “My daughter would not even piss on your face”. Me: Off course she won’t. Because she has your face to piss on. You are a – here he used Urdu alternative for ‘illegitimate’ child – and a whore, he repeated. That went on and on until he was dragged out. From outside he hurled another abuse and I returned. He rushed back in the studio and lunged towards me with his punch. Fayaz ul Hassan Chauhan had to intervene and literally threw him out with the help of half a dozen staff members of the Channel. While leaving, the Senator was screaming, let her come out and I would teach her a lesson.

The horror of it you could only imagine to a certain extent. Not that I was scared of him. It was least of that. But it was a horrifying display of misogyny and such a show of it with impunity repulsed me beyond imagination. It was disgusting and nauseating to be part of such a spat. It is even more nauseating to think that he would keep on appearing on TV without any remorse or compunction. TV show hosts would keep inviting him in the name of ‘professionalism’ that requires them to cover the ‘other side of the story’, which probably can’t be covered through the witnesses.

This ugliness followed by even more ugliness on social media by the JUIF followers. Looking at their tweets and abuses hurled at me, one gets almost certain that they are too obsessed with women’s pants and with ‘whores’. A woman, who appears on public platforms, is not afraid of them, is not submissive, is not conformist to their values is a sure shot whore. And whore, of course, are a very bad thing, very lowly women who do their business without any clients. Oh wait!

I have now submitted a complaint for FIR in Kohsar Police Station of Islamabad, against the Senator for physically assaulting me. The FIR, however, is still pending after four days. Surprise! JUI-F is a coalition partner with PML-N in government these days. I’m sure it does not mean that the PML-N would try save the skin of this JUI-F Senator. Many sitting ministers and MNAs, MPAs of PML-N have expressed solidarity with me and I trust Prime Minister’s passion for a progressive liberal Pakistan. Am I wrong here, Mr. Prime Minister sir?

The Senator, on the other hand, is lying to the teeth and denying any physical assault, which is actually recorded in cameras of News One channel. I hear there is a lot of political pressure on the senior management of the channel to not release the footage.

I hereby appeal the Prime Minister to seize the CCTV cameras footage from News One and constitute an inquiry into the incident.

I appeal Chairman Senate, Mr. Raza Rabbani to kindly take notice of the unfortunate instance, constitute a Committee of Inquiry and take appropriate action to save the honour of the august House of which he is the custodian. Chairman Rabbani is also requested to order the News One management to hand over the CCTV camera footage to the Senate Committee when formed.

I request Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of JUI-F to institute an internal inquiry against Senator Hamdullah for abusing a woman, threatening her with rape and death as well as physically assaulting her. JUI-F has political stakes in the system and cannot afford such stigma on its face.

Here an important point about the changing Pakistan needs to be emphasized. I have got unprecedentedly wide ranging support. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (PPP), Imran Khan (PTI), Hasil Bizenjo (NP), Bushra Gohar (ANP), Nadeem Nusrat and others from MQM, Many leaders of PMLN, Samia Raheel Qazi from Jamaat e Islami, Communist Party of Pakistan, Awami Workers Party, leadership of MWM and many other religious groups, Pakistan Railways Union and other trade unions, women’s groups, members of APNS & CPNE, overseas Pakistanis community, you name anyone and they have sent their messages of solidarity. Pakistan is awake against misogyny. Thank you Pakistan!

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist.

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@marvisirmed