Culture: Condemn Dance but Endorse Harassment!

Rizwan Karim

Maslow’s theory of motivation is a crucial model in philosophy which attempts to define the motives behind individual actions. A pyramid analogy is used to simplify the understanding of Maslow’s theory where at the very bottom are one’s physiological needs, and once one’s physiological need are met one moves upward to next stages of safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and ultimately self-actualization. It is at this stage where one’s morality and things like thinking creatively or thinking for better of others comes in. Recently, two interrelated new came from the land of mountains, but the most fascinating part was the way people reacted to these events.

The first news involved a few female students dancing at a TV program hosted by famous TV anchorperson Sanam Baloch. The video received a huge backlash on social media. Many people were quick to condemn and criticize, terming it as against the “Culture” of Gilgit Baltistan. The university, which these students are part of was quick to disassociate itself from the whole event putting the entire blame on the students. The most interesting reaction, however, came from the Awami action party, a political coalition which has emerged as a very powerful force in recent time. The political party held a press conference and outright condemned the whole act.

A few days after the event, a very heart-wrenching news came out. The news of two females being harassed within two days. The news was very disturbing since it was coming from a land which is known for respect for females, zero crime rates, honesty, and hospitality. Despite all this, it did not receive any attention in the media, or any condemnation by local leadership or academics. The news wasn’t even shared by people who otherwise claim to be supportive of women empowerment and proponents of female rights. The local political parties are also silent on the whole issue.

This opposing response to the two events got me thinking about where we stand on morality, human rights and about feeling the pain of others. Are we still at the bottom of the Maslow’ pyramid, where all we care about is our own physiological needs, or we have moved only a step further where our egos get hurt on simple acts of people claiming their birthright. The silence of political spheres, academics, and social workers is disappointing. There is a need to take a stand at individual level against women harassment in the society and workplace and making sure the culprits in the recent event must be punished or at least there names to be made public so that an example could be made out of these people. As the Prophet (PBUH) said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim].

The contributor is a Fulbright Scholar at Iowa State University, USA, and is a strong proponent of STEM education and writes about issues of Gilgit Baltistan

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