Last Friday, Pakistani senator Hafiz Hamdullah verbally abused a female analyst and human rights activist, Marvi Sirmed, while the two were recording a televised discussion on violence against women.
Hamdullah is a member of the Pakistani political party Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), whose platform is based on traditional Islamic principles.
The discussion, which was headed by a female moderator, specifically revolved around the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) silence on the issue of honor killings, which is the practice of killing relatives (usually women) who are perceived as having brought shame to their family. While outlawed by the Pakistani government, the practice is encouraged by traditional Muslim values.
The CII is a 20-member constitutional body that provides advice to the government about how to reconcile Islamic values and secular laws.
During the course of the discussion, one of the panelists criticized the CII for their support of a law that allowed men to ’lightly beat’ their wives when they refuse sex.
The moderator then turned to Sirmed, the female analyst, and asked for her opinion.
Shockingly, that's when Sirmed claimed the Pakistani senator began verablly assaulting her before trying to "beat" her when she attempted to give her stance against honor killings -- all while the incident was being filmed.
“I started my comment by saying, 'I agree with Masroor Sahib (the man who criticized the CII) to the extent that...' and here Hamdullah cut me [off] and went on and on with his arrogance and rudeness. I responded in almost the same coin. And that's when he started abusing me with worst possible expletives. Called me a whore and said "tumhaari shalwaar utaar dooN ga aur tumhaari maaN ki bhi (I will take off your trousers and your mother's).
I returned this to his own family women. And then he tried to beat me. All of this [was] recorded [by the] camera. Fayaz ul Hassan Chauhan held him so his punches don't reach me. He had to be taken away by the News One security. “
Although an edited video clip which omitted the rape threat and attempted physical abuse was aired on television and the full clip has not been released, the escalation of the argument can be easily seen on camera.
Sirmed later shared the details of the attempted physical assault on her Facebook page, and then on another TV show. She has since pressed criminal charges against Humdullah.
The host of the discussion and the other participants showed support for Sirmed. Barrister Masroor tweeted this soon after the incident occurred:
Many others have voiced their outrage at the way the senator acted and voiced their support for a criminal investigation to take place. Pakistani senator Sherry Rahman openly condemned the incident and agreed with the public outcry for action against Hamdullah.