Home Culture Ayesha Jalal ‘Censored’ by Awards Show

Ayesha Jalal ‘Censored’ by Awards Show

by Newsweek Pakistan
Historian releases unedited video of her acceptance speech at the HUM Women Leaders Award 2021

Historian Dr. Ayesha Jalal on Monday released an unedited video of an acceptance speech she had submitted to the HUM Women Leaders Award 2021, which had honored her for her services to historical scholarship.

The unedited 65-second clip has been reduced to 45 seconds by the awards show in what appears to be an attempt to censor her calls for breaking the shackles of patriarchy to ensure women can effectively contribute to society without hindrance.

While her appreciation for the award and the greater recognition of women in all spheres of life were left intact, the awards show edited out a portion in which she said: “Without the aspiration and determination to break the artificial chains that bind women, and hold them back from making their contributions to society, it would be impossible to break the structures of patriarchy that have held women back for such a long time.”

In its introduction to Dr. Jalal, the awards show had described her an “insightful historian and educationist” and credited her research and writing for its insight into the culture and history of the Indian Subcontinent. A recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz for her contributions to scholarship, Dr. Jalal has been honored globally for her work and currently serves as the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University.

The censorship of the reference to patriarchy is especially concerning in light of the ongoing attempts to pressure and censor the organizers of the Aurat March through doctored videos that risk endangering their lives and imprisoning them on false charges. Last week, a court in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa directed police to register First Information Reports against the organizers of this year’s march for allegedly displaying “obscene posters” and passing “sacrilegious remarks” against religious figures. Similarly, a court in Sindh order police to investigate whether any cognizable offense had occurred during this year’s march and register a suitable FIR against the organizers.

The annual Aurat March organized its inaugural edition in 2018 and has become a regular fixture since then, despite backlash from rightwing groups. Organized in major cities across Pakistan, the march aims to highlight issues facing Pakistan women and call for an end to gender discrimination, economic exploitation and misogyny.

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