Mahira Khan: A double helping of hypocrisy

By Aisha Ali-Khan


This is a cross-post

The latest Pakistani woman to take a few million direct hits in the past 24 hours has been Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.  So what was her ‘crime’, I hear you ask?


Well the only ‘crime’, in my honest opinion, that she may be guilty of is not giving a flying hoo ha of what people think of her.  Her other crime, if you must know, was to enjoy a cigarette with a male colleague, Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, while at work.

Cue shock, horror, and a swathe of heart attacks across Pakistan, while the nation comes to terms with the fact that a young, successful and self-sufficient actress could actually have a life not in accordance with the ‘chador-covered gharelu’ Pakistani female ideal!

For some reason, the quality of these pics were so poor that they rendered poor Kapoor entirely non-visible. Because, for some reason, he got no flack from anyone whatsoever even though he was also  standing next to Mahira Khan, smoking. Challo, it happens…

When I see these kinds of double standards within our communities, I am transported back to 1999, when I very-much wanted to watch Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace at the cinema with my brothers and male cousins. My mum refused me permission to go — simply because I was a girl and that the ‘mahalla will talk’.

So it was OK for my brothers and male cousins to go to the cinema to watch a family-friendly movie but not me? To this day, I can still remember and feel the utter, shitty unfairness of it all. Believe me, time may have moved on but times have not changed.

Why are we, as a community, so riddled with hypocrisy? As an activist and campaigner, I’ve seen so many examples throughout the years I reckoned it was about time I compiled a list! Please feel free to add any of the 42,625,262 examples I may have missed.

1. Gender roles:

Daughters, aged 4: You must learn how to be good cook and housewife so you can look after your husband, your in-laws and their three pet goats.

Sons: It’s OK, mere chaand (moon), I will happily spoon-feed and burp you until you are 40 years old.

2. Keeping the family izzat (honour):

Daughters: Remember, you have to keep your dad’s, brother’s, uncle’s and the random person’s izzat pure and safe, no matter what happens.

Sons: So you’re no longer a virgin? It’s not your fault, I know those girls are cheap and always throwing themselves at my sona, sona laadla (beautiful, beloved son). How can you be expected to resist?!

3. Marriage problems:

Daughters: Stop being so selfish and go back to your husband. So what if he beats you, abuses you and cheats on you. You have to think of your children and our izzat, not yourself. Besides, at least he comes home to you every night.

Sons: WHHHAAAATTTT? Your wife didn’t boil your dhoodh patti for three hours in the morning?!



4. Education:

Daughters: Not only do you have to hold three PhDs to get a decent rishta, but you need to also know how to make round rotis and dai balle in the summer for your husband.

Sons: Just exist my darling. That’s all you need to do.

5. Fashion:

Daughters: Make sure your burka has a burka on in case you are seen by the pervert standing on his donkey with a pair of binoculars, three streets away.

Sons: Wear what the heck you want: topless; backless; sleeveless; crotchless —  as long as you take your nazar off, meri jaan.

6. Marriage to a non Pakistani: 

Daughters: Haven’t you done enough moo kala by being born a girl that you now have to dance on our graves while we are alive?!

Sons: It’s okay beta, bring that Jessica that you’ve been shacked up with for the past six months home. And if you want, after six months, we will ask for Maasi Sugra’s daughter’s rishta too, so you can at least have 100% pure Pakistani children without any milawat!

I’ve only managed six before I began to lost the will to live….

Altogether now: #WeAreAllMahiraKhan.


Aisha Ali-Khan is a political commentator, human rights activist and an advocate of greater transparency in public life. You can follow her on Twitter and read her blog here

Liked it? Take a second to support SEDAA - Our Voices on Patreon!

One thought on “Mahira Khan: A double helping of hypocrisy

  1. Asha Gidwani

    Misogny aside. Mother is the first person who imposes such imossiblely archaic restrictions on their daughters.

    Our socities are built around women preserving the family izzat, raising children, instilling values in them.
    So I think that may be, it is up to the mothers to fight for their daughters.
    View sons and daughters as equal children. Would be a first step towards changng views.

Leave a Comment