Patari CEO and co-founder, Khalid Bajwa, just resigned amidst claims of sexual harassment by several women. Mehravar Ali took to Twitter to claim that she was harassed by him on various occasions. Another girl, Zainab, also detailed how she was harassed by Bajwa at the age of 17 when he was himself 27. The following tweets spread like wildfire.
Events, he graced me with unwelcomed hugs. I shut up about it for the longest but I guess the time is right. I have no personal vendetta because I wasn’t stupid enough to meet him alone despite him asking me a billion times. I just don’t want him to keep preying on young girls
— mehr (@mehronnehr) April 11, 2018
Although it was a very long time ago. I was only 17 i went through a stupid breakup and this guy, mind you he was fucking 27 years old back then, took so much advantage of me back then. I was only 17 and didn’t know any fucking better
— zainab (@lowkeyzainab) April 11, 2018
Unsurprisingly, there has been a social media uproar on the issue, with the Twitterati taking different views of the situation.
#KhalidBajwa should be punished under cyber harassment and women protection bill. We need to set a precedent against all these bosses and employers who harass and sexually exploit their workers. It’s intolerable.
— Haider Sukhera (@HaiderSukheraGL) April 11, 2018
Clear blackmail on part of these girls. Their level of enjoyment & glee speaks volume for their biased motives. Then they say “All man are pigs”. Oh the hypocrisy..! ☝???? #KhalidBajwa https://t.co/LCgmbdwDL5
— ABW (@ABWDXB) April 11, 2018
No comments on such tweets, for they fly in the face of both, empathy and logic.
Is 17 really such a young age to say no to someone you’re not interested in whilst posting revealing photographs on a public Instagram account knowing every sick predator out there will pounce? #KhalidBajwa https://t.co/ohWMHNty14
— Ali Hafeez (@_alihafeez) April 11, 2018
Ladies and even Gentlemen, why can’t you just Block, Delete, Report? Rather than indulging in lengthy private conversations with strangers. If it’s truly disturbing why give your time, attention to it. #KhalidBajwa #Patari #Commonsense
— LubNaa (@LubnaSabir1) April 11, 2018
They claim it was inherently in their power to end the conversation. Thankfully, this Twitter user dug out the root of the problem by pointing out the years of training that go into a woman’s “character building” by the society around.
you know how, when you’re a young girl, you’re taught not to say no, and not to be rude, don’t be insensitive, and don’t raise your voice, don’t offend, etc? stop telling us to ‘end conversations if we don’t want to have them’. we weren’t raised that way. #KhalidBajwa
— Aisha Ahmad (@aishaismad) April 11, 2018
This sneaky shift of the blame is what is problematic. Half-hearted acceptance of a problem will only result in further victim shaming and give more power to perpetrators like Khalid Bajwa, who even in silence have people doing their dirty work for them. Interestingly, this tweet from last year saw Bajwa calling out the mentality that allows men to get away with sexual harassment.
While Bajwa completely went off the grid in the wake of evidence surfacing against him, Patari has issued the following statement.
The swiftness of action is commendable here because it sets a precedent for other organizations to not indulge in victim shaming. True, this might be more helpful fot Patari in garnering good press. However, it does not take away from the fact that it is a step towards giving more voice to victims. Let’s do just that. Empower women to speak up against workplace harassment. And, also let’s critically assess the patriarchal mindset that seemingly legitimizes moral policing of women who are already suffering at the hands of their perpetrators.