Why has the purported naked image of a naked woman unnerved a nation?
Gracing the cover of India’s FHM magazine (a journal dedicated to the pursuit of manly aspirations to say the least) is the Pakistani actress Veena Malik who as a consequence of a moribund Pakistani economy has made neighboring India her bread and butter. Fine you may think except for the problem that India has a secular government where as Pakistan pays strict adherence to Islamic doctrine. Doctrine which forbids the public display of women in the flesh. Never mind centerfolds.
This is wherein then where the dilemma begins. With most female actors in order to secure roles and levitate to scripted pr campaigns are essentially forced to cede to demure reproductions of their image. Something a male actor is rarely asked to do. That said in keeping with expectations and opportunities thrust upon her Ms Malik is said to have agreed to go naked for India’s FHM magazine. Apparently though there was a caveat…that part of her image be covered with the initials of Pakistan’s much reviled intelligence agency, ISI, other wise known as Inter-Services Intelligence agency, ostensibly covering much of her naked torso.
That said, Ms Malik insists the nude photo was published in violation of her agreement with FHM India, insisting rather that she had agreed to a ‘bold’ not a nude photo. FHM India’s Editor in Chief on the other hand counters otherwise. Telling Pakistani television he had this to say:
“We have all the record(s), Veena was very excited about that ISI idea.”
The use of the ISI idea was primarily to be done as affront against the ISI who are regularly accused by Indians of sponsoring terrorist attacks inside India’s borders. What it has instead done is to showcase the reticence amongst the Pakistani community to cede women’s rights to conduct and portray themselves as they may well say fit, even in a foreign nation outside of its borders, with Pakistani clerics arguing that the actress has disgraced the country (never mind that the leaders have done a good enough job of this themselves with their own affairs) and humiliated it once again to neighboring India.
That said, not everyone necessarily sees the debate in such terms:
Offers a Pakistani shopkeeper: “It seems to be an Indian attempt to malign Pakistan by faking her nude pics, or she might have done it to get a cheap publicity,”
Then this from a twitter commentator, Umair Javed: who has called on Pakistanis to “make copies of the picture and bury it in your backyard. This way, our grandkids will know there were some amongst us who lived free!”
To date authorities in Pakistan have yet to have decided whether to pursue the matter legally, preferring to wait and see if the images are real or fake (or could this just be a careful ceding of the issue?) Time will tell if Pakistan has the will to indict Ms Malik for choosing to portray herself nude, but then again one has to understand as an actress it is her job as much as her faith is the job of certain clerics who now have to decide if its best to allow one woman to have her way rather that provoke an entire nation of women and future instances of going against what some are beginning to concede as irrelevant and malevolent attitudes towards women. Meanwhile perhaps those in power in Pakistan can begin to concentrate on the rampant strife and dichotomies that inflicts it everyday, never mind the sight of a purported naked women in a magazine.