The killing of Qandeel Baloch had nothing to do with honor

Qandeel Baloch/FB

Qandeel Baloch/FB

I had never heard of Qandeel Baloch, a model and Internet celebrity known as Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, until early this morning, when I read a Wall Street Journal story about her murder.

I haven’t been able to get her off my mind all day.

I was sickened and saddened by the headline in The Wall Street Journal that said she was the victim of an “honor killing.”

The 25-year-old model was allegedly strangled by her brother in her parents’ home because he didn’t like photos and videos she was posting on the Internet. I’ve looked through those photos on her Facebook page today, and I have seen much worse from American celebrities and even young girls, and on television, and in movies and magazines. And while some of her photos and videos were risqué, many more of them are what I would describe as high-fashion.

She had more than 700,000 likes on her official Facebook page and more than 40,000 followers on Twitter.

Horribly, there is a video of her dead body on another FB page about her. Photographers and others surround her body, shouting. And some of the comments on posts on that and her official page are so vulgar, awful and hateful, I can’t believe the administrators at FB have allowed them to stay there.

“Born to a poor family from the backwaters of Punjab, Ms. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, said she had run away from home to pursue her dream of becoming a star,” a story in The New York Times said. “She took to social media after unsuccessful efforts to enter the mainstream entertainment industry.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to strengthen laws intended to prevent such killings, but critics say no concrete steps have been taken yet.”

In some cultures, many girls and women are killed when a relative decides she has brought dishonor to her family, and these cultures call their deaths honor killings.

“In most cases, the honor killings take place within the family,” Syeda Sughra Imam, a former senator from Punjab who has pushed for legislation against the practice, told The Times.

“The accused and the complainant are from the same family and they forgive each other,” Imam said in The Times. “No one is ever prosecuted.”

But honor is variously defined as “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions;” “high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank;” and “high public esteem; fame; glory.”

Tell me what is respectful, honest or fair about this young woman’s murder.

“Her videos were not very different from thousands others shared by 20-something social media celebrities around the Internet – she pouted like a kitten into the camera, discussed her various hairstyles and shared cooing confessions from her bedroom about her celebrity crushes,” a CNN story said.

Qandeel considered herself an activist and often talked about fighting for women’s rights to do what they want with their minds and their bodies. She stood up for others who felt the same.

On July 12, she tweeted, “#MalalaDay Why? Because one female can make a difference,” referring to Malala Yousafzai, another Pakistani female and activist, who was 15 when she was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban. She was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize, which she was awarded in 2014.

You can learn more about Qandeel in this BBC video.

In a post the day before Qandeel was killed, she wrote this on her FB page: “As a women we must stand up for ourselves…As a women we must stand up for each other…As a women we must stand up for justice. I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM.”

Why isn’t this OK, for women to be who they are? Why are we blamed for what we were wearing or where we were when we’ve been raped? And why, in the year 2016, are women still abused, beaten, mutilated and murdered all around the world because, even in the United States, many still see us as second-class citizens or little more than property?

Just a little more than a week before Qandeel’s slaying, on July 6, she posted this: “Love me or hate me both are in my favour. If you love me I Will always be in your heart, if you hate me I’ll always be in ur mind.”

I am deeply sad about her death, and I can’t say how long it will be before she leaves my heart or my mind.

 

No one wants to be assaulted at work

waitress

Photo by Pixabay

Sexual assault comes in many forms.

Of course, we all know what outright rape is, right? But what about all of the other forms and grades and shades of acting out in a sexual manner against another person? Are those assaults?

I was thinking about this when I read an Indianapolis Star story about an Indiana bar co-owner who banned a patron from his pub because the 60-year-old customer kept making sexual remarks to female staff members.

The man said his remarks would have been OK 20 years ago. But were they really? Or did men just think they were?

I’ve waited tables and have experienced many types of sexual behavior from patrons. When I was 16 years old, I was a junior waitress in a small-town restaurant. Being a junior waitress meant I did all of the other things the regular waitresses did, but I couldn’t carry alcohol to and from tables.

I can’t count the number of times men said or did sexual things to me. One man asked if I was “wearing underwear under that cute uniform.” Another grabbed my butt as I took the order of those at his table. Another patted me on the butt every time he came in. And yet another would lean back in his chair every time I squeezed by so his back brushed against my chest. And all of those things happened when I was 16!

I’m not happy with myself that I didn’t report all of those things to my boss. I’m sure he would’ve behaved like the above-mentioned bar co-owner. But I was afraid I would lose a job I desperately needed. My father had been laid off and I was literally helping pay the bills for a short time. (I didn’t mention those incidences to my dad either, so don’t blame him for anything here.)

People who wait tables are supposed to smile and be friendly, no matter what. Your tips depend on how you interact with the customer. And your tips are basically the majority of your pay. Besides, the customer is always right, right?

“… the dark side of this business is we run into some pretty horrible goblin people,” Black Acre Brewing Co. co-owner Jordan Gleason said in a Facebook post he wrote that has gone viral. “Folks who think that just because we’re serving, we don’t deserve any basic decency or respect…Here’s the thing though, women in this field get infinitely more disgustingly treated. The sheer number of times they get groped, or harassed, or treated like objects would blow your mind. The worst of it is how normal their harassers think their behavior is…

“Men, we often don’t see the level of filth that our friends, sisters, and mothers go through every day. We hope to surround ourselves with people who would never treat a woman like that. We live in a safe little bubble. But the reality of this thing? It’s an insidious disease that’s happening every single day…”

I’m so proud of this manager for standing up to this customer and for the female staff at his establishment.

It’s time for all men to stand up for women, stop treating us like objects and stop making unwanted sexual remarks and advances.

Don’t you agree?

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