A discussion on 'A Woman like Her: Qandeel, Celebrity, and Posthumous Legacy in 21st Century Pakistan'

March 6, 2019: The SSLA department, IBA conducted a talk titled A Woman like Her: Qandeel, Celebrity, and Posthumous Legacy in 21st Century Pakistan. The session was conducted by the author of the book A Woman Like Her: The Short Life of Qandeel Baloch, Sanam Maher and SSLA faculty Palvashay Sethi. The event was attended by Chairperson SSLA Dr. Faiza Muhtaq, SSLA faculty Dr. Naveen Minai and Dr. Laila Farooq and students.

The talk revolved around the image of Qandeel who was hailed as a feminist icon but also called promiscuous. Maher walked the audience through her thought process when she was writing the book. She discussed a number of challenges she faced with regards to how she wanted to tell the real story of Qandeel, but not the one that the cannibalistic audience wanted. She also struggled through the idea of whether she was the right person to tell Qandeel's story in the first place, and what kind of audience she will be catering to. Finally, she decided that Qandeel's story was important to tell in order to explore what it meant for us as a society.

The conversation also delved into how creating safe spaces for individuals who do not conform to societal norms is of utmost important because of the lack of acceptance within the society. Maher also mentioned how the government needs to become part of the practice since activists can only do so much by existing within the confines of stringent and unprogressive institutional practices.

The discussion then went on to understand that authors come from a role of privilege, and to use that privilege in the right manner can be tricky when creating awareness of the marginalised.

Concluding the event, an engaging Q&A session took place between the author and the speakers.