Try Beating Me Lightly: A Slam Poem | Areesha Khuwaja

A slam poem by illustrator Areesha Khwaja
A slam poem by illustrator Areesha Khwaja

A slam poem by illustrator Areesha Khwaja, the video titled ‘Try beating me lightly: a slam poem’ takes its title from the Council of Islamic Ideology’s proposed ‘model’ Women Protection Bill that recommended that a man be allowed to “lightly beat” his wife.

In the poem, Areesha stresses that women need to be seen as human beings before anything else: ‘Before being your sister, before being your daughter, before being your wife, before being a woman; I am human.’

he frames the poem as a tribute to Qandeel, saying that “I think the root cause of honor killing and any abuse of this kind is the belief that women are merely a property of men and they can do anything they’d like with them. Both these things are completely intertwined and had to be addressed this way.”

She added, with reference to the proposed bill, “Whenever women [especially in Pakistan] stand up for their rights, it’s men telling them to tone it down, [like suddenly they know everything a woman goes through in this society a lot better than the woman herself], labeling them with tags like “westernized” and “feminazi” in the part of the world where, in the 21st century, we are still fighting to just be treated like humans. I think it’s very important that we don’t let these people stop us.”

While the proposed bill was drafted in May, Areesha released this video after the murder of Qandeel Baloch.

“I decided to release this poem after Qandeel’s brutal murder when suddenly many Pakistanis started to celebrate the murder of an innocent, woman, because she was “immodest”. It was shocking and very depressing to see women ridiculing her without realizing that they can easily be a victim of this culture themselves,” she says.

The timing paid off and her poem was well received.

“I received a lot of support from all over the world. This person even messaged me saying that he made his friends listen to my poem and was glad that they actually got the message. He said even he was surprised when they agreed with him because they never talked about such a crucial topic,” Areesha says.

“What made me very happy is that people are actually beginning to talk about the topics which were considered taboo not so long ago. I felt that as an artist I actually am playing my part and even in the midst of these dark times, I hope everyone takes a step towards a more accepting, understanding and pluralistic society,” she adds.

Post was originally published in Images.dawn