Every now and then we sit and wonder: why are women easy and soft targets for hate, abuse and criticism? What is it in our society that allows men to slander and defame women without any consequences?

Recently, Youtuber Adil Raja claimed that some Pakistani actresses and models were working in cahoots with General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and former ISI chief General Faiz Hameed to trap politicians. Although he shared the initials of the actresses instead of full names, it became obvious to netizens who he was referring to. Soon after his vlog surfaced online, a large number of social media users were seen spreading a collage of pictures featuring Mehwish Hayat, Mahira Khan, Kubra Khan, and Sajal Aly.

Pakistan’s political rivalries have often played out by powerful men maligning innocent women to humiliate their opponents. The narratives almost always invoke charges of immoral behaviour between men and women who are well-known enough to generate intrigue and scandal. This case was no different. Do we ever use initials of men in the industry to malign someone? Has anyone ever done any moral policing on men? Are names of Pakistani actors and models dragged similarly as our women for revenge tactics and cheap fame? No, because people think twice before dragging a man’s name. Women aren’t and will not be dummy objects to be dragged and slandered in the present day tug-of-war for more likes, shares and subscription on a YouTube channel or for social media fame.

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There is no doubt that the system is rigged against women and partial towards men. Women are almost always accused of inviting the attacks on themselves by virtue of the fact that they are women. Will the system for once rise up to the promises and practice the same levels as it does for its men. Though the men of the film industry took a stand for the women and what was even more heartening to see was these women standing for themselves and rising up because they had to for the protection of their name, respect and the hard work they had put in. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, defamation laws are toothless, and it take years for people to clear their names.

We hope that from onwards, the so-called keyboard warriors think twice before defaming a woman, think twice as hard before trying to disrespect a woman. Women aren’t soft targets; men need to learn to get their two cents of fame on their own and not misuse women’s names.