Tuesday July 26, 2016
The Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch
What one woman’s social media activism and her murder by her own brother means for Pakistan. By Maham Javaid
Qandeel Baloch, Pakistans first female social media celebrity, who belonged to a working class rural family from the province of Punjab and had over 750,000 followers on Facebook alone, was strangled to death by her brother in what the police described as an honor killing last week.
Baloch’s exponential rise to fame began with her posting narcissistic selfies and videos in which she asks viewers how she is looking; she then entered the national consciousness by promising internationally acclaimed cricketer Shahid Afridi a striptease if he defeated India in a regional tournament. For Baloch, things took a dangerous turn when last month she dabbled in the political realm by exposing the religious clergys sexual perversions, which resulted in her receiving numerous death threats.
In the week proceeding murder if one glanced at Pakistans print and online media, it could be seen that while her life impacted the country in abstract ways, her subsequent death affected Pakistan in a potentially tangible manner.
While alive, Baloch celebrated her sexuality in a manner that was unprecedented for Pakistan her impact stemmed from the fact that Baloch’s videos and selfies, and declarations of love and female desire made the country uncomfortable.
Qandeel represented a deep paradox in our society because we want to control and regulate womens bodies but at the same time we want to consume them, explains Sarah Suhail, a doctoral student in women and gender studies at Arizona State University, to The Diplomat. So the same people who judged and abused her simultaneously derived pleasure from her videos, and the same talk show anchors that vilified her, used her for their ratings, said Suhail.
Baloch’s death may be long remembered by those fighting for justice in honor killing cases because in the wake of her death the government has, yet again, promised stricter laws regarding honor killings.
Additionally, the fact that Baloch’s murder is being investigated by a female police officer is no mean feat. Before the murder, Attiya Jaffri, the 52-year-old policewomen in charge of Baloch’s case, had never headed a homicide investigation.
Its common for the Central Police Officer to put at least one or two policewomen in the team that investigates honor killings, said Jaffri to The Diplomat. Because in honor- related cases we often need to engage with the mothers or sisters of the victims. But I’ve never before been made the Investigating Officer of a murder case.
In her opinion she was trusted with this duty because currently her team has the best record of solving murder crimes in the district of Multan. She then adds that this is no ordinary case. Baloch was a female celebrity murdered in a gruesome way and her killing has created a national wave of sorts, so maybe those in charge thought it best that a women head the case.
The Life of Qandeel Baloch
Baloch, born with the name Fauzia Azeem, hailed from Shah Saddardin a little-known village that only entered the national imagination after Baloch was buried there. By her own admission, and that of her parents, she belonged to a conservative family, that she herself supported. In the last year alone, Baloch bought her parents a house in Multan (the same house in which her brother drugged her and her parents and then strangled her while she slept), and financed a younger sister’s wedding.
The fact that Baloch did not come from privilege is one of the reasons she stands out. Qandeel is a feminist in the original sense, says academic Suhail. She explains that according to Baloch’s own narrative, in which she was a victim of an abusive marriage that she walked away from without any financial or emotional support, it can be seen that throughout her life Baloch had to fight the systems of patriarchy that prevented her from achieving her goal of standing on her own two feet.
Baloch’s feminism was also novel because she reclaimed online spaces for Pakistani women in an unprecedented manner.
One of our missions is to teach females that a mobile phone is a tool and it can be used to destroy patriarchy, says Nighat Daad, a lawyer and the founder of Digital Rights Foundation. Qandeel did exactly that; she used her mobile phone to celebrate her sexuality.
It should be noted that Baloch was not the only Pakistani woman to be deemed as bold by the media. There have been others before her: Mathira, Meera, Veena Malik, to name a few. But Baloch was different in that she was unapologetic and unabashed by people calling her out.
In a television interview earlier this year, a TV host asked Baloch why she resorted to being vulgar. She did not shy away from the question. You need to watch my videos again, Baloch challenged. I dont see any vulgarity in my videos. I think I look hot. And sexy.
What Does It Mean to be Killed for Honor in Pakistan?
On the surface, it appears that it was this very celebration of sexuality that got Baloch killed. After all, her brother confessed that he committed the murder because Baloch brought dishonor and disrepute to the family.
Moreover, if the case does make it to court, it will be dealt with as a case of murder in the name or pretext of honor.
But researchers such as Suhail and Nabiha Meher, the founder of Pakistan Feminist Watch, who have been observing patterns of gender based violence in Pakistan, urge that this line of argument is too simplistic.
In Pakistan, and much of the neighboring region, gender based violence becomes (legally and culturally) palatable when put under the umbrella of crimes related to honor. Society has created a justifiable category [honor killing] to place violence against women, said Suhail.
The notion is that the moment women cross a transparent line where they challenge societal norms, their life is endangered.
Until she was sharing videos proposing to Imran Khan or Shahid Afridi and asking her fans how she looked, it was all fun and games, but when she challenged the religious clergy and exposed the Mufti Qavi for what he is, her life changed drastically, says Daad. All of a sudden her anonymity ended, and her past and personal life was splashed on television screens across the country.
Meher agrees: Her death threats began after the episode with Qavi, after she took on the extreme markers of religion in the country.
On June 20, Baloch released videos and selfies of her and Qavi inside a hotel room in Karachi. Local news channels invited Qavi and Baloch to appear on television to ask them what transpired between them. Qavis non-responses strengthened Baloch’s claim that she has exposed the dirty cleric for what he is. Qavis fellow clergymen did not approve of this and he was suspended from his coveted position in Pakistans religions moon-sighting committee.
Media critics say that such talk shows put Baloch’s life is further danger.
It seems that we are living in the twilight zone of journalism, says Suhail. The media simply has no ethics.
Unfortunately, Suhails claim is hardly far from the truth. Two weeks ago when Abdul Sattar Edhi, an international icon of social welfare, passed away, a local TV reporter prepared a news package on Edhis funeral from inside Edhis freshly dug grave.
Daad also claims that describing this murder as an honor killing is unfair.
This was a killing because of a hurt male ego, says Daad. A mix of incidents led to this unfortunate death: the medias treatment of Qandeel; the clergy played a role, especially the Mufti episode; the government that didnt provide her security; and lastly, we, as internet users who enjoyed her but didnt protect her.
A Posthumous Investigation
Honor killings are not exclusive to Pakistan, or even South Asia; according to the Honor Based Violence Awareness Network out of the 5,000 international honor killings every year, 1,000 can be ascribed to Pakistan.
It had been a longstanding demand of womens rights groups for stricter laws to prevent such crimes. Hence the the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2005, which introduced offenses in the name or on the pretext of honor as a specific category of violence, was much lauded.
According to Asad Jamal, a lawyer engaged in drafting amendments to curb crimes committed in the name of honor, because of these amendments an honor killing must necessarily lead to a minimum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment or death.
He tells The Diplomat that the court has no option but to punish the offender and a waiver or compounding of the offense have no effect on the courts decision.
It appears, however, that lawyers, prosecutors, and even judges in the country do not understand the amendment. Many are critical of the government for not doing enough to bar heirs from from forgiving the perpetrators of honor killings. Even in Baloch’s case this fear is widespread.
They might have lodged a case against him but it is likely that eventually they will forgive him and the court will allow the family to settle the matter privately, said Advocate Sheikh Jamshed Hayat, the president of the Multan High Court, the court where Baloch’s case will be heard.
Even though Baloch’s father, in an interview with the BBC, states outright that his son should be categorically shot to death, Hayat is convinced that if Baloch’s parents have already lost a daughter, why would they want to lose their son as well?
Hayat insists that he has witnessed and dealt with scores of killings since 2005 that were committed due to honor and rarely has the law been able to punish perpetrators. The amount of honor crime suspects that make it behind bars is like a drop in the ocean, he told The Diplomat.
Jaffri, the officer in charge of Baloch’s investigation, agrees with Hayat. Most of such cases end in compromises. We do our job by finding the culprit but mostly the courts allow the family to reach a compromise, says the policewoman.
This shows that despite the fact that in the case of honor killings the court has no option but to punish the offender, from police officers to advocates no one is able to recognize the law and hence the number of prosecutions remain negligible.
According to Jamal, this is because many do not understand the law. Lawyers dont know how to read the law in Urdu, much less in English. And the way the draft was written makes it very complicated for lawyers, judges and prosecutors to understand, he said.
The second reason the amendment is not understood and hence not implemented by courts is because the Islamic laws of Qisas and Diyat are often conflated and confused with amendments in the countrys criminal codes.
Reema Omer, a legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, adds that unless there is reform of the entire framework of Qisas and Diyat, there is always a chance for more loopholes to emerge as a result of these piecemeal amendments.
Such low rates of prosecution result in very little fear of retribution and hence suspects like Baloch’s brother fearlessly continue to take lives in the name of honor.
The national conversation Baloch’s murder began acted as a catalyst and just a few days after the killing the government announced that stricter anti honor killing laws would be implemented within weeks.
But it remains to be seen what good these rushed amendments would do. It is time we stop resorting to knee-jerk measures and shortcuts in our pursuit of justice and confront the glaring flaws in our criminal justice system, said Omer.
Maham Javaid is a journalist for The News on Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has also appeared in Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Refinery29, Timeline, and The Nation.
July 24, 2016 Shawwal 19, 1437 A.H.
A symbol of feminismWaqqas Mir
Qandeel Baloch represented those who make irreverent choices
I hope she stays alive, mused one of my female colleagues about Qandeel Baloch. This was months ago. That hope, like the hopes and dreams of Qandeel as well as millions of other women, is now extinguished.
The very fact that one woman in our society has to fear for the safety of another, who challenges tradition, says a lot. I did not know a lot about Qandeel Baloch, nor did I follow her. All I knew was that she was a rebel, someone challenging the status quo a brave woman who challenged our notions of what is proper and acceptable. She refused to let others define what was honourable for her. She was her own person and hence worthy of admiration.
During her lifetime, she was mocked by many of the people who are now claiming to mourn for her. She was a joke for many except that she was no joke. She was a living breathing woman who challenged both men and women in this society.
What defined Qandeel for me was the one thing that is the essence of human existence, thought and freedom: making your own choices. Her stubborn, irreverent assertion of her freedom to choose and be her own person was what defined her life and actions. Others are free to choose differently but not free to judge or condemn her.
This takes us back to what Adam Smith said in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith broke away from the Kantian tradition of classifying actions as right or wrong and was more interested in the why of human nature. Moreover, he arrived at the conclusion that those who cannot empathise or sympathise lack imagination. Sympathy, Smith said, is an act of imagination because we can never truly feel or go through what another feels. We can merely imagine it in order to lend sympathy and empathy.
And, therefore, those who say that Qandeel was no role model or no feminist must admit their lack of imagination that someone can choose differently and that act of choice is just as legitimate a choice as being a senator. She did not want to fall into your straitjacket of a role model.
I feel sorry for those who are trying to distance themselves from her actions while condemning her death. In effect, many of these individuals are furthering the same retrogressive agenda that got her killed. Passing a judgment on her while saying that the judgment did not extend to killing her does not help in any way. She did not pollute our culture, norms or religion so you need not try so hard to be seen as washing yourself of your association with her.
Yet many are spraying a disinfectant before condemning her murder.
Who is a role model in a society where most people, benefitting from privilege of birth or fortune, condone, aid or profit from some corruption (moral or financial) every single day? How are any of those saying she was no role model themselves worthy of being emulated when they choose to stay silent or be gagged in the face of injustice or naked abuse of power only because they think they need to move ahead in society? This includes me and you.
Qandeel Baloch does not or did not require our approval she only asked for the right to make her own choices, to be tolerated, to be allowed to exist. And we denied her even that.
It is not uncommon for victims of patriarchy to internalise the discourse that furthers it. Many victims of domestic violence blame themselves in some measure as if they are, somehow, responsible for bringing it upon themselves. So it is my contention that Pakistani women who distance themselves from Qandeel are in fact internalising patriarchal discourse instead of arguing that she had a right to live by her choices, they first feel the need to clarify that they disapprove of her actions or do not see that a symbol of feminism has been lost. The conformity expected of Qandeel Baloch, even and especially by women, is rooted in male-defined and male-controlled norms. This is the real problem.
Feminism and the dignity of women is hurt each time a woman is oppressed or killed for making her own choices. That is how Qandeel Baloch was a symbol of feminism she represented all those who are marginalised and make irreverent choices. Any harm that came her way therefore damages the greater cause of being able to break taboos, of indulging in the healthy activity of challenging the thinkable and asserting individual identity.
The threat she posed to what is thinkable is obvious from the statement of a cleric who was embarrassed after being photographed with her. He reportedly thinks that her death, albeit sad (notice the similarities with many women saying the same thing), will serve as a lesson for anyone who shows irreverence towards the self-proclaimed scholars of religion.
This brings us to another contribution by Qandeel Baloch: her refusal to revere those who want us to believe that asking questions of the self-righteous should be discouraged.
Qandeel Baloch spoke for many in Pakistan when she showed irreverence towards the religious right. She was not afraid of exposing hypocrisy and the irony is that even in death she continues to remind us of our hypocrisies.
To go back to Adam Smith again, she held up to us a moral looking glass and we did not like the wrinkles we saw.
Many in Pakistan may feel that unless you march on the streets or brave arrests for your political party, you are not a symbol of feminism. But this is no longer true in the current age. If feminism is about independence, making your own choices and not succumbing to the norms that patriarchy lays down then she was a symbol of feminism. And every woman who defies the path spelled out by patriarchy for her life is a symbol of feminism. That is what we must realise. Feminism lives in every independent woman and the men who help them make those choices. Every casualty therefore hurts women and the larger discourse.
The state, in response, has promised us that a law on honour killing will soon be introduced. Many are celebrating it. But a state that has not been able to prevent thousands of women being murdered (and murder remains a crime in this country) will not miraculously become all-powerful to enforce this new law. The attitude of the state and its agents, defined by patriarchy, will not change.
Things will only change when we look at someone like Qandeel Baloch, respect her choices and move on with our lives. Without feeling the need to spray a disinfectant. That day, however, is not coming any time soon.
Next, she caught the attention and wrath of audiences because she owned and flaunted her sexuality with defiance and abandonment.
Third, she provoked and pushed the boundaries of male-set norms and expectations. She threatened the status quo and, unlike many squeamish women who benefit from feminist progress, Qandeel claimed her modern feminist allegiance with little academic anxiety.
Fourth, she arguably had more male supporters than regular Pakistani womens rights activists or, for that matter, Malala. Despite her mocking of the religious clergy, she was not accused of being a traitor or an Imperialist feminist who exposed Muslim male misogyny. But, the PTI does consider womens sexuality a disease that must be counseled with archaic electric shock therapy.
The murders of Mahmud and Sabri may have been motivated by those who considered them guilty of shirk, bidat or being anti-Islam. And yes, those who create an enabling environment for the extreme act of murdering creative, imaginative and especially, skeptical thinkers are also culpable. But such an anti-progressive milieu has not been exclusively created by fundamentalist or conservative forces.
Censorship of the arts, writing, social and even, the natural sciences has been routine in Pakistan. Proponents of critical thinking have been punished and expelled from relevance systematically. But, liberal thought has been crushed as much within the fraternity itself, through actual and self-censorship, cover-ups and exaggerated self-importance and petty jealousies and ghettoized seminars and conferences. Social media has aided in the neutralising of debates and its members are guilty of remaining silent out of a deep-seated fear of being unfriended by one side or another.
So-called supporters of the liberal arts and human rights have enabled opponents by shrinking and limiting liberal space to the virtual world; by mocking the efforts of those who remain active in the field rather than on keyboards and; by carrying a generic cynicism that is all too ready to play victim and is apologetic about the failures of acclaimed liberal political leaders.
They also turn a blind eye to the sexism and misogyny rampant amongst liberal men the ones who frequent their drawing-rooms. All the extremist needs to do then is to pull a trigger because we have collectively contributed to the culture and pattern that mourns online and then moves on to the next blog that needs commentary. Liberals may support sexual freedoms as a lifestyle but they are equivocating, flippant and unsupportive of the politics of womens sexuality.
War-time Japan used to recruit Comfort Women to gratify the sexual needs of soldiers as part of their national duty. Pakistan needs more women like Qandeel to scale up the discomfort of those privileged hypocrites and morality-mongers who fear sexual women more than its murderous men.
~ July 24, 2016 Shawwal 19, 1437 A.H.
A tragic storyBy Umber Khairi
‘Qandeel’ was tripped up by hurdles of class and gender
Although it’s been over a week since the murder of the outrageous social media celebrity known as Qandeel Baloch, and much has been written about her and her death, the very tragic nature of her real story continues to haunt me.
The glamorous young woman of Instagram and YouTube turned out to be a mere facade. The well turned out, elaborately made up and well-coiffed woman, with all her sexual innuendo and her risqué broadcasts, was revealed as a disadvantaged girl from a poor area of south Punjab. Her social media broadcasts gave little indication of her humble beginnings or the tremendous odds she must have battled in her rise to fame.
The woman who was such a star on social media (over 46,000 Twitter followers and over one million ‘friends’ on Facebook) was killed by her brother, in the house where her parents were staying. This was a house in Multan that she paid the rent on so that her elderly father could receive the medical treatment that she was paying for.
Subsequent to her murder, much was written and much was said about the broader issue of (so-called) honour killings and about the nature of her celebrity, and whether or not her work or brazenness could be classified as in any way as feminist in its assertion of sexual power.
The whole discussion of the life and death of Fauzia Azeem aka ‘Qandeel Baloch’ began to be framed in a discourse on honour killing and feminism. But that actually was not the real story although certainly a part of the story.
This girl’s story is about her journey from poverty and oppression to a form of self-determination and financial betterment that was made possible by the voyeuristic nature of social media. She re-invented herself, developed a bold and shocking persona that gained her a huge following, and was savvy enough to know what to use as material, and when. Indeed, her productions seem to reveal both a canny news sense and an impressive ability to read the public mood in terms of topicality and demand. She was totally outrageous, shameless in her attention-seeking.
And she was an enigma nobody really knew who she was or where she came from.
Alas, as her true story began to come to light, her media persona began to fall apart. Poverty, forced marriage, motherhood, initial work as a bus hostess, unsuccessful attempts to enter the world of show biz all revealed her as all too human and vulnerable. She was no longer the one who was in control of her image, no longer a powerful performer; she was just a poor girl with pretensions, a failure in her attempts to make it big in the world of modelling or acting.
There is certain poignancy to be found in the fact that this girl who actually did a pretty good job of acting out a fictitious character was unable to get a break in television drama. Even more so when you consider that although most TV drama productions today seem to focus extensively on female oppression and social disadvantage, the roles of poverty-stricken, disadvantaged characters are inevitably played by upper middle class actresses. Even the role of a Fauzia Azeem couldn’t be played by a Fauzia Azeem.
One of her last broadcasts was her outrageous tryst with a mullah from the Ruet-e-Hilal committee, which was hilarious in its exposure of how much the cleric seemed to be in her thrall and enjoying her attentions. And she would probably have gotten away with that had she been a star with some social standing or a wealthy family, instead of just a girl of poor stock.
When I looked at ‘Qandeel Baloch’, I saw a shameless attention-seeker, a self-publicist with no great claim to fame. But now when I regard the story of Fauzia Azeem, I see an immensely courageous person who tried her best to rise from poverty and disadvantage, and who was obstructed at every turn by the hurdles of both class and gender. Yes, her death had to do with the deep seated misogyny of Pakistani society but it had as much to do with social oppression and class. The point is not whether she was a “feminist icon” or a “role model for women”; the point is she did the best she could despite immense disadvantages.
Despite the tragic nature of her story, one is filled with admiration for her ambition and her courage, and for the fact that, even at the peak of her celebrity, she continued to support her family.
July 24, 2016 Shawwal 19, 1437 A.H.
What killed her?
By Farman Kakar
Did Qandeel’s disagreement with the dominant culture warrant her murder?
From February 2014 to February 2016, a total of 1276 people were killed in the name of honour.
For many, it is the question of who killed her. I believe the question is what killed her? For many, she deserved the fate of being murdered. For others, she did not. It is in these two competing worldviews that the question of what killed Qandeel Baloch lies. Qandeel’s wilful murder is just a high profile case of otherwise occasional happenings of killing in the name of so-called honour across Pakistan.
For her brother, it was for the sake of Baloch honour that he murdered Qandeel. Nevertheless, killing in the name of restoring honour goes far beyond the confines of ethnicity and is equally shared by other ethnic groups from all across Pakistan. In fact, there is no monolithic culture, characteristic of a particular ethnicity. Every ethnicity has a culture, which has crosscurrents to its mainstream. Thus, if a particular person acts in the name of a particular ethnicity, it should not suggest that all members of a given ethnic group will act in a similar fashion.
Culture is not static. Some cultures are more dynamic than others, however. A culture is not uniform either. We have diverse sub-cultures within an overarching dominant culture. In the context of present article, dominant culture is the one which majority of people ascribe to. This culture justifies the killing of Qandeel in the name of honour. Within the same culture, a myriad set of sub-variant cultures either acquiesces to honour killing or at least condones it. For the majority, which subscribes to the overarching culture, Qandeel’s ‘provocative’ videos warranted her murder.
Unfortunately, in a deadly conservative society like ours, you normally do not have the privilege to decide your own choice. You have to give in to the overarching culture more often than not!
If we put the vast majority of subscribers to the dominant culture into the shoes of Qandeel’s brother, they will probably act in a strikingly similar fashion the way Qandeel’s murderer did. Here is the rub: the society we live in is the main hurdle to our individualistic self. An individual is seen through the prism of his or her family, clan and tribe and ethnicity. Especially a female is considered to be the honour of a family. When her reputation is at stake, the honour of whole family is at risk. The surrounding society taunts the families when a girl elopes with a boy or something else of the sort happens. People use profane language, engage in slander and as a result, it becomes too unbearable for the families to withstand the shame.
When violators of the so-called established norms are caught, they are killed. Only then honour is considered to be restored honourably. No different was Qandeel’s case. Her actions were an affront to family’s honour, at least her brother believed so.
What is noteworthy to mention is that every adherent of the dominant culture does not believe in killing in the name of honour. In Pakistan, from February 2014 to February 2016, a total of 1276 people were killed in the name of honour killing.
In opposition to the ascendant culture is its peripheral counterpart, which challenges Qandeel’s so-called honour killing. From this perspective, we might have disagreed with what Qandeel used to do or what she stood for. That was our choice. Did her disagreement with our choice warrant her murder? Of course not for the subscribers of the nonconformist rival culture who believe that each one of us lives a life of his/her own. They have typical laissez-faire attitude towards fellow human beings and believe that no one should dictate others. Identifying where the militant overarching culture takes its roots is important, in order to effect a positive change in the culture.
Religion is a very important ingredient of culture. In our case, it appears to be the most important component on various occasions. Honour killing is not an exception. Nevertheless, it is not Islam per se that enshrines honour killing but men’s interpretation, deeply rooted in patriarchy, of the religion that either espouses killing in the name of honour or at least condones it. Seen this way, the cultural rules are unambiguously made by men.
In fact, Islam has varied cultural streams. No single, uniform interpretation of Islam informs the Muslim world. The religion is congenial to reinterpretation through Ijtihad, which implies solutions to ever-coming human problems within the light of the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). The fact that Islam allows for reinterpretation of religion makes it conducive to accepting modernity. However, the problem is that the dominant clergy of Sunni-Deobandi persuasion is averse to ijtihad. Secondly, no two clergymen are open to each other’s interpretation. What are our options then?
There is an ever-increasing need to slowly and gradually separate politics from religion with state having absolute monopoly on the legitimate use of coercive means. In this context, state as a complainant in Qandeel murder case is a welcome step. This has barred the Baloch family to pardon her killer. The same should be the state attitude in every wilful murder case.
July 24, 2016 Shawwal 19, 1437 A.H.
This society killed her
By Daniyal Mirza
One thing that we gather from Qandeel Baloch’s cold-blooded murder, it is that we live in a highly intolerant, patriarchal society
As the smell of coffee wafts throughout the room, my eyes wander to the newspaper, I cant make out the headline and I make no effort to read it. Instead I open Facebook on my phone and the first thing I see on my newsfeed is that Qandeel Baloch has been killed by her brother.
I let the news sink in.
Of all the news in the world this shocked me the most. Did it really, though? With all the attacks on females in our beloved, tolerant society, news of a female star being killed to protect her familys honour was nothing out of the blue, for Pakistan at least.
Baloch’s antics on social media were well-known throughout Pakistan and even beyond, at least for those people who possess a Facebook account. She had been called Pakistans Kim Kardashian, a slut, a whore and a number of other colourful names. Her videos were full of comments abusing her, telling her she must have some respect, that she should die and that she is ruining Pakistans name.
Then she was no more. Strangled to death by her brother who thought he was protecting his familys honour.
It was just another day for Pakistan. A woman who, for all intents and purposes, was doing her own thing, was not afraid to show a bit of skin, and did some things that were far too wrong for this patriarchal society to handle, was killed in cold blood.
There was outrage. People rushed to put up statuses defending Baloch. The same people who had ridiculed her rushed to talk good about her and felt good about themselves. They were supporting a good cause, after all.
These same people tagged their friends on the videos of the late model-turned-actor-turned-social-media celebrity and made jokes about her, but after she was killed all of us started updating FB statuses in her defence and a representation of feminism.
If one thing that the majority of Pakistani people are best at, its hypocrisy. But what they are even better at is barbarity. With the death of Baloch, there came a flood of tweets and sentiments praising the killer for what he had done, that Baloch deserved it.
This is just another instance in a long list of the male gender overpowering the female. A few months back, a bill was being drafted by some religious scholars who believed it was okay to lightly beat your wife.
So, we are condoning domestic violence now. Top-notch stuff this is.
A religious scholar went on national television and refused to let a woman talk because, well, she was a woman. In 2015, there were almost 250 incidents of honour killings in Punjab alone.
I was watching a video of a girl who was singing an Arabic poem while playing the piano, and scrolling down to the comments, I found where hordes of men and women (yes, women also!) were bashing the girl for not wearing a dupatta over her head.
Instead of praising her voice they were shaming her for showing her face.
If one thing that we can learn from the past few months, it is that we live in a very intolerant society driven by men. For the feminine and, for that matter, any other gender to survive in this society, this kind of intolerance must be rid of. Qandeel brother didn't kill her, this society did.