I might not always agree with how Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy presents important issues of the Pakistani society on screen but I have still admired her work. I believe she remains to be among those few people who at least speak up when there is a need to.
However, my respect and admiration for her took a steep downward turn the day her following tweet emerged on social media.
You see, while everyone needs to be very mindful of what they say, high profile celebrities like Chinoy have to be extra cautious. I say this because their words hold the potential to start a chain reaction. Thus, any comments that are not well-thought through can potentially do more harm than good.
So, I will use this space to vent my frustration as a woman and a citizen of Pakistan on why Chinoy has miffed me. Very specifically, I have three grievances.
Derailing An Important Issue
Issues such as violence against women, a woman’s right to marriage and sexual harassment are all real issues and the kind that urgently need to be addressed in the country.
I strongly believe that if articulated effectively there’s no reason why a common ground cannot be reached between the right and the left wingers. True, that a quick fix is difficult but a solution is most certainly possible.
I have always given Sharmeen benefit of doubt for choosing to present these issues in a way that stir controversy. I always thought that perhaps it was her way of associating with the problems and thus, believed in respecting her perspective and methodology.
Nevertheless, her ridiculous tweet where she accuses a doctor of sexual harassment for sending out a mere Facebook request has made me seriously doubt her credibility. Her tweet makes me especially indignant because it has derailed an important issue that was only beginning to attract much needed attention in Pakistan.
Her tweet and its silly pretext has given a window to sexual harassers to ridicule this very important cause, stereotyping women who speak up against it as attention seekers.
Now because she ended up sabotaging an important issue and damaging the very cause we all seek to raise awareness on I am genuinely done with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and her work. I will be really grateful if she decides not to further complicate matters in the Pakistani society and looks to find stories for her future projects in some other part of the world.
Fuels Polarization through Her Work
Polarization in Pakistan is at a very dangerous level right now. There is a desperate need for people belonging to different schools of thought to respect each other’s perspectives and somehow collaborate in order to ensure a better future for the country.
The last thing we need is an abundance of hate-mongers who are bent upon fueling polarization. Interestingly, most issues hold immense potential to be resolved amicably, if the conservatives and liberals let go of their extremist stubbornness.
Therefore, I will be more than glad if people like Sharmeen stop seeking attention through issues that have a direct bearing on our daily lives and somehow find another way of remaining in the news!
Projects a Negative Image of Pakistan
Neither black nor white, Pakistanis like citizens of all other countries live in different shades of grey. Therefore, it is unfortunate that more often than not only the dark side of the country is projected in the international media.
To make matters worse people like Sharmeen are bent upon doing exactly what the country doesn’t need. For her to project every Pakistani man as a chauvinist and for her to say that there are “Zero boundaries in Pakistan,” is good enough a reason to offend the masses and women like me.
I’m not saying that there’s nothing wrong in Pakistan. God know a whole lot needs to be improved. And when it comes to crimes against women, a complete re-haul is needed to make the country safer for its female citizens.
However, there’re also a lot of great things that are happening around us. There are wonderful men who stand up for women’s rights and inspirational women who have risen above all odds to turn the tide in their favour. It would be good to see Sharmeen talk about what is good in Pakistan every once in a while too instead of constantly degrading and stereotyping the country and its citizens.
There is a good reason then why she ended up offending people from all schools.
For future it would perhaps serve best that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy tells her family to do what the rest of us do when we receive a random Facebook request: IGNORE IT. Unless that friend request is accompanied by a message, there is absolutely no reason to create a mountain out of a mole hill.