Shafi V Zafar


It has been three years ever since Meesha Shafi’s allegations of sexual harassment reverberated through the social fabric; turbocharging the onset of a vicious media circus.
The riff-raff has yet to record its closing act. Meanwhile, screws continue to twist and as if brass tacks alone cannot do the deed, dirty tricks remain the order of the day. Previously, Saba Hameed, Shafi’s mother and a veteran actress has cried for help as she was viciously grilled about her family members by the defence counsel.
While strong-arm tactics (often, too conspicuous) remain a sad reflection of our criminal justice system, the stakes are significantly higher when one is a public personality. Just as worrisome had been the blunt misapplication of cyber defamation laws to silence those who had come out against one of Pakistan’s most beloved celebrities, Ali Zafar.
Rife disbelief among the fan base was expected, but what about the deliberately prejudiced coverage on media outlets. Ms Shafi’s daring defiance of the patriarchal conventions has, for the umpteenth time, put the ugly truth out in the open. Whichever direction the gavel pounds would be a gamechanger for future discourse around cases of harassment. If she is unable to deliver a strong defence, Mr Zafar has requested an overwhelming Rs 1 billion in damages. Far too excruciating would be the suspicious glare the next time, a brave survivor plucks up the courage to speak out about their assault. The straits could not be more desperate.
Ergo, Ms Shafi would do well if she carefully crafts her words before giving out any statement. One wrong blow and the entire argument would fall like a deck of cards. And the same goes for Mr Zafar.
Though proving his innocence is a tight rope to tread, this exercise should not be an excuse for indulging in cheap shots. Let justice prevail so that the far-too-ubiquitous social media can finally take the tainted glasses down.