I felt an incredible amount of anger, guilt and shame over the recent ‘honour’ killing of Qandeel Baloch. I had just been following her for a week before she was murdered by her brother. I recall looking at her social media posts in awe of her bravery to just be herself. As a South Asian woman, even the slight bit of being sexy and showing some skin is brave. This may be a foreign concept to non-South Asians, but in the South Asian culture, there can be judgment and hate towards any woman exerting her sexual power.
Qandeel’s life wasn’t an easy one. She grew up poor and was forced into marriage at the age of 17. Despite her family’s objections, she left her abusive marriage and was determined to make it on her own.
At the age of 26, her life was taken away but her words and her strength live on in every woman who struggle to find their own voice.
I admired Qandeel. She didn’t give a f&^k. She did what she wanted to do and she lived life on her own terms. And because of her bold and courageous actions, I was also scared for her. I saw the hundreds of hateful comments on her social media feeds. I observed those comments, wanting to say something but not sure what. Honestly I was scared to speak up. I didn’t want any of those spiteful people to start on me and begin to comment on my own life. I didn’t know if I could handle it as well as she seemingly did. I also despised feeling silenced by this ‘fear’. I wanted to speak up for her; for all women who are told to keep quiet or hide. I wanted to tell those hateful trolls to f&^k off and give her space!
See, I have never seen this much bullying happen online before. We call it ‘trolling’ but quite honestly, it’s emotional and mental abuse. I can’t imagine how she felt but I do know that it never stopped her. She knew of the hate but her middle finger was way up and she came out even stronger. Qandeel was a hero. They tried to silence her voice but her voice just got stronger even after she was brutally killed by her brother. Every news channel spoke about her. People on social media started to defend her and I could feel her message of girl power really getting through to the masses.
I did feel guilty and ashamed for not speaking up when she was alive. For not following my gut. For giving into fear. I felt silenced by the hate when instead, I should have screamed out loud. I should have wrote this when she was alive. But I can’t change that. I can just learn from it. And perhaps, gain some courage to speak up on this very important issue right now.
In Qandeel’s words:
“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 choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for the sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM.”
Qandeel caused quite a stir -and I know she would have been proud. She has made a difference and her light will continue to shine in the many women and men’s lives she has impacted. There is no honour in killing. We must continue to speak out and speak up.
Qandeel would want that.