The recent romantic proposal of a girl to a boy in University of Lahore( breaking the gender stereotyping by taking a lead as a female in expressing love) followed by a promising embrace between the love-birds has un-surprisingly received backlash and outcry from public in Pakistan but unexpectedly a more severe reaction from administration of the above-mentioned University. Such implacable judgment won’t be taken as a surprise, had there been no increase in the numbers of “dancing cars” day by day, romance behind the tinted windows of vehicles or sexual intimacy in the hideouts in the day light in Pakistan. Interestingly the public which occupies top slot in porn-searching list on Google in the world is upset with PDA of the couple and it is perfectly justified as a section in Pakistan Penal Code prohibits people from doing obscene acts causing nuisance to general public.
The section 294 of the PPC states: “Whoever, to the annoyance of others; a) does any obscene act in any public place, or b) sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both”.
It would be rightly put that the conscientious and dutiful Pakistanis who have always been much careful to respect law by strictly following the traffic rules; never trying to chase an ambulance in order to speed-up their personal vehicles; not taking the opportunity in public places to touch female’s private parts or ogle in lecherous manner at them: popping eyes out even at poor burqa-clad women; respecting women at workplace by never discussing their figures and shapes in spare-time or sparing time for the lewd/vulgar discussion; finding no reason to fight over trivial issues with anyone using abusive language and even life-taking weapons ; completely avoiding bribery and nepotism by staying fairer in their personal and professional matters; never thinking of surfing a porn site or following a porn star; staying away from poking their noses unnecessarily into the matters of others; not fantasizing every Sakina, Pashmina and Kareena ending-up in wet-dreams (and the list goes on) to such an exceptionally modest nation this PDA is no doubt HIGHLY UNACEEPTABLE !!!
In near past, at the Lux Style Awards, when actor Yasir Hussain had proposed to his girlfriend (now wife) Iqra Aziz, in the most public way, it had equally brewed a storm in the moral teacup of Pakistani nation. The proposal was followed by an intimate hug and a kiss just like the proposal of this young couple. The reactions those TV stars faced was not less severe as they had dared to hug or kiss in the Islamic state of Pakistan. Their expression of love had eyebrows raised on account of its vulgarity and deviation from cultural norms, and here they are happily married since then; celebrating their lives.
The bigger debate is who defines “obscenity” in a public space because, unfortunately, we are raised in a society where vulgarity is unbridled in the form of verbal abuse to emotional abuse. People, especially men, use such words unashamed rather with pride during routine quibbling let alone while brawling. The Gheratmand Pakistani nation has always believed that showing affection to a woman is a conspiracy of the West and against our norms, yet marrying a girl at a tender age of 12 or 13, domestic violence of women, pedophilia and martial rapes are perfectly aligned with our values. Therefore, no wonder the incident of PDA is deemed as atrocious act.
The question is who maintains the private lodges and hideouts for couples to fulfill their sexual needs/desires? Off-course, they can’t be the modesty personified Pakistanis. Pakistanis only aid the law enforcement agencies in raiding on such gratuitous and sham-less places. Such incursions by police, have definitely led to the observable decrease in pedophilia and an remarkable fall in the incidents of rape, NO?
The idea of banning the PDO might turn out to be baseless because people have always other outlets and ways of satisfying their needs. For sure our nation would prefer the “other ways” over the “open expression,” obviously those ways are secret, furtive and under the label of modestly. Although despite a discernible link between sexual abuse and power, the evident and logical connection between molestation and sexual frustration cannot be denied.
By venturing into people’s private lives, we are no doubt promoting an accepting society where we all think no different, believe in one sets of values, and practicing those values in public lives only (private lives are matter of choices based on power, gender and accessibility of resources). Additionally, instead of implementing the laws to protect the vulnerable we are proudly more into moral policing, depriving people of relatively more socially acceptable or, say, less baleful and unwholesome outlets. But why not, after-all we are NOT a sexually frustrated society. We don’t believe in sex education to children or youth because that probably would lead to increase in child-abuse, which are otherwise not found anywhere in Pakistan. It’s such a taboo that even the adults are not well educated about the subject enough to understand their own needs for obvious reason of decency.
Next in the list is electronic media with its dramas and morning shows which must be applauded for highly remaining themed-based around science fictions, environmentalism, social issues, diversity and inclusion, livelihood development, tech-based education and alike. Media is playing its vital and fundamental role in building resilience and promoting career-orientation in youth, then who on earth are those perverts who are still struck in PDA? Despite unending career, business and job opportunities to youth, their indulgence in love affairs or dalliance, is out of comprehension for the whole nation. Moreover, we also give complete freedom and regular training to youth for artistic interests and expressions of their desires as through poetry, music or any other form of art for effectively channelizing their sexual energies, yet their deviation from our societal norms are embarrassing and worrisome.
It won’t be fair not to appreciate the sincerest efforts of our religious scholars who are working beyond the call of duty to highlight the menace of deplorable and shameful acts of harassment against women through their teachings, preach against the bargaining over heavens in this earthly life for personal objectives, centering Juma Khutba on character-building, healthy politics, the concept of volunteerism, social enterprise rather than merely the concept of “obedient wives”.
Perhaps there is a dire need for revisiting the definition of appropriateness because our so-called moralities gladly allow women to be molested and forced into prostitution but cannot give leave to a couple who are consensually enjoying some quality time.
The answers to “What makes them do so?” are quite obvious, but it is equally unfortunate that our society remains blinded by the sparkles of stubbornness, mulishness, and faux ego. It is this very society and the norms devised by its members that provoke people to go against these carefully excogitated principles. When law starts looking on and stealing glimpses into people’s private lives they are left with no option but to enact their bedroom stories in the open.