For those who have not come across a video clip on WhatsApp or other social media platforms, ‘Bhola Record’, as he’s now known: He is a goldsmith from Punjab, who went to UAE for carnal fun with prostitutes. Like it generally is with men of his ilk, who are often with little education, shallow brought up and crass tastes, he filmed his time with one of the prostitutes and shared with his friends to show off. Complying with Murphy’s Law, as it must have been originally feared by Bhola Record, the video clip eventually got leaked and found its way to the social media platforms. The video went viral instantly. In an interview, Bhola Record said for an initial while he sulked in shame but then, to his surprise, he recovered as he found himself thronged with mannish applause and envy.
As he became a YouTube star among Pakistanis at home and abroad, he felt so much encouraged that he eventually got established his own YouTube channel and Facebook page where his successive adventures and antics were uploaded. While his first video has been viewed well over 200,000 times, his YouTube channel videos and Facebook page have been liked by almost a quarter of million fans. Lately, he’s been uploading his video messages on all matters Pakistanis are so helplessly obsessed about, be it a taunting response to Rishi Kapoor on his earlier boasting after Pakistan unexpectedly defeated India in ICC Champions Trophy’s finale, or a retort to Trump on his new Afghan Policy where he had scapegoated Pakistan for US’s own failures in Afghanistan.
As if this was not enough, he was then invited to Eid shows and for interviews by multiple local Pakistani TV channels and the ones owned by Pakistani diaspora abroad. A great majority of men and their driven media houses have seemingly condoned Bhola Record’s brazen trespassing into ignominy which he filmed and uploaded on internet. Or if they saw anything untoward, it was dubbed as ‘funny’ antics of a roly-poly man. Sadly, in becoming a YouTube star among Pakistanis, Bhola Record demonstrates how deeply patriarchic Pakistani society is and to what extent hypocrisy runs in us and our society.
In this context, let me bring the case of a tragedy struck young and beautiful lass, Fouzia Azeem, AKA Qandeel Balcoh. She was also a social media and YouTube heartthrob among Pakistanis, who belonged to a poverty-stricken background but wanted to flourish in the showbiz industry. Desperate as she must have been to become a star, she was unabashed in her vocal and sensual expression, much like Bhola Record. Whereas she was so viciously condemned by moral brigade and the clerics for being so extrovert and bold; we are yet to see such a campaign, or a shred that of, to ostracise Bhola Record. Qandeel Baloch was constantly hounded by honour-zealots in social media, clergy and her relatives alike.
How can any society expect internal peace, happiness and social justice when the debauchery of men is condoned in the name of masculinity; while women, considered the repository of social honour, are lynched on the slightest suspicion over their chastity?
Her extrovert nature and sensual boldness was termed as sacrilegious to our imagined societal honour, she was portrayed as a stigma to not just her family, clan and tribe but also to the whole Pakistani society. This was done so incessantly that eventually her own brother lynched her to salvage the family’s ‘pride and honour’. Ironically, her killer never felt remorse in having constantly received money from her in outright violation of the so called rural value system where for men being financially dependent on sisters is considered below their ‘honour’.
Unlike how our TV-occupying Mullahs in past had taken upon themselves to bring extrovert and bold women like Qandeel Baloch and Veena Malik back to the ‘righteous path’, Bhola Record is left unperturbed just because he’s a man whose debauchery and promiscuousness neither threaten to bring stigma for his clan nor to the imagined honour and social fabric of our society.
How can any society expect internal peace, happiness and social justice when the debauchery of men is condoned in the name of masculinity while women, considered repository of social honour, are lynched on the slightest suspicion over their chastity? Unfortunately, it’s not an issue only restricted to lower classes of our society but this dichotomy could be witnessed at crème de la crème of Pakistani society. Recently, when Ayesha Gulalai charged her party leader Imran Khan of PTI with reference to indecent text messages and sexual harassment, most political analysts, both men and women, looked more concerned with that aspect as to why she had taken so much time between first indecent message and her incriminating press conference.
In contrast to our ostentatious religiosity, this epitomises how conveniently we look away from men’s trespassing and instead question women to justify their whereabouts and timings as if this was the crux of matter and not the debauchery and impiety of men.
The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.