Controversial playwright Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar is once again in trouble for comments he has made about women’s rights movements in Pakistan.
On September 14, during a live broadcast, Qamar commented on protestors who were advocating for women’s rights after the incident of a woman’s gang rape at a motorway in Lahore that happened on September 9, sparked outrage across the country.
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In the interview, he questioned if the freedom women have in Pakistan is not enough for them and “what kind of freedom” were they asking for.
He was also curious to know if these women were a part of the protest after getting “permission” from their fathers and brothers.
Outraged netizens immediately started sharing clips from the interview online and called for action against Qamar. Many questioned why the director was allowed to speak on television as he has been previously penalised for his comments against a journalist on air.
Tweep @khwamkhwah wrote: “The point is why Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar is invited to talk shows in the first place.”
Twitter user @aishaqamar97 posted: “Y’all keep asking why Khalil-ur-Rehman is invited or given platform on national TV? Because people listen to him. Because they want him to be utter vile and vulgar things against women publicly because that’s what the majority do privately.”
Another user, @notsafaimran, tweeted about the appearance Qamar made at one of the protests earlier: “[…] I’m so glad you were [insulted] at one of the marches you attended because you are no ally of ours.”
Qamar attends a protest
Previously, a clip of Qamar at one of the recent rallies went viral online because protestors stopped him from speaking on the issue when local media representatives approached him.
In the video, protestors are seen screaming at him and while shouting out slogans. A woman is also heard telling him to “behave”.
Another person is heard saying: “Who called you here?”
Sharing the clip on September 11, tweep @HaiderKaleemB wrote: “Khalil-ur-Rehman Qarmar was about to address the media today at the protest against the motorway gang rape case in Lahore when @HUSNAINJAMEEL called him out for his misogynistic comments against women and the @AuratMarch. The channel was also fined by PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) for airing his views.”
However, after a brief commotion, Qamar was allowed to speak to the media. He said he was against Aurat March because the issues faced by men and women were of the "same nature" and rule of law was the only solution to fix these problems.
He also condemned the rape incident.
Aurat March incident
In March, Qamar was slammed by netizens, politicians and celebrities for abusing fellow panellist, journalist Marvi Sirmed during a live television discussion.
In a video of the Neo TV show that circulated extensively online, Qamar expressed his views on Aurat March (women’s march) when he started hurling abuses at Sirmed.
Qamar was particularly outraged by the slogan, “my body, my choice” which has been adopted by women’s rights groups and individual protestors in Pakistan. It is also being used at the recent protests.
Subsequently, PEMRA imposed a Rs500,000 (Dh10,972) fine on Neo TV over violation of the code of conduct for allowing him to make derogatory remarks against Marvi Sirmed.
In the same interview, he had said that if women “want equality, they need to do the same things men are doing. Go and rob a bus, abduct a man and gang-rape him. Only then I would know there is equality”.