“Shehzil Malik is a designer and illustrator with a practice based on design for social change. Her passions of design and social responsibility result in collaborative projects with a focus on societal issues like women’s rights, feminism and identity constructs.”
Pakistan-based artist Shehzil Malik‘s facebook page is our daily visit. As soon as we wake up every morning we hop over to her page to read her incredibly insightful and poignant thoughts about women’s rights in an incredibly misogynistic and patriarchal society like Pakistan. She is out there on the frontline creating, throwing it up right on the streets meeting hatred and ignorance head-on. Though she writes on foundation of her experiences in Pakistan – all her thoughts and ideas are indeed universal. The idea that a group of people can be hated, despised, kicked around, misunderstood, sexualized, objectified…is indeed conversations the world has been having for decades and has been amplified (as it should) especially these past few years.
Further below just some of the amazing words that she pens every day. Her thoughts accompany her striking and moving art. They may be difficult to read, but like the saying goes “If you’re not angry, you’re not informed”.
Please follow her on the following social media:
Further below watch a really cool video made on her further below as well.
Keep looking out for each other – especially minorities and the marginalized.
“I drew this artwork after my regular haircut at Depilex beauty parlor. Depilex has a foundation that rehabilitates and employs women who are acid attack survivors, so the woman helping me look my best is often someone robbed of the same dignity over their appearance. This is never lost on me. I don’t think I’m a particularly dark soul, but finding injustice in Pakistan is often as simple as opening your eyes and looking around you. A friend once said she gets through the day by not checking the news. And while I respect caring for your mental health, I worry that if no one pays attention, how will anything change? Being an Islamic society isn’t restricted to dress codes and food choices. It’s about having a community that supports and uplifts the most marginalized, where no injustice is swept under the carpet. And it’s only by putting ourselves in the shoes of those who hold the least power, as uncomfortable as it may be, that we can fight injustice; cause reform. Surely the whole point of worrying about the afterlife is to care for the living while we’re here.
Nida Usman Chaudary, powerhouse advocate, once told a story about conducting gender-based violence awareness sessions in universities across Lahore. The subject of acid attacks came up. Common in South Asia, acid attacks are often perpetrated by husbands who feel their wives have “dishonored them” or if a man is angered by a woman for rejecting his advances. From what I read, the number of acid attacks in Pakistan have decreased, which could be the result of increased awareness and new stricter laws being enforced.
Midway during Nida’s session, a young man piped up saying, “Aap kay yeh human rights and all theek hain LEKIN larkian bhi tou lead on karti hain!” (All these human rights are alright BUT girls also lead men on!)
Nida then had to explain to him that while breaking a heart is not a crime, throwing acid to disfigure or murder someone definitely is.
This idea that inflicting horrific violence on women is somehow justified is at the heart of gender-based violence. Everyday I read a news story about a woman murdered by a man she knew. Everyday I read a comment under the article saying it was both parties fault. A society where violence against women is acceptable is one where men end up murdering the women in their lives.”
“Last year when this slogan was seen in Pakistan, it’s caused an uproar. It has been explained multiple times since then, but even now I get messages from men and women with zero understanding of what it means or thinking that asking for rights over your own body is vulgar/ unIslamic. I drew a series on it:
On body autonomy/ maternal health part 1: https://www.instagram.com/
Part 2: https://www.instagram.com/
On Rape: https://www.instagram.com/
On FGM: https://www.instagram.com/
As a recap- This is an international slogan and covers a lot of issues like rape, murder, FGM, reproductive and abortion rights, sexual health, maternal health. In English the slogan is, My Body My Choice. In Urdu that becomes Mera Jism Meri Marzi. People get offended at the word “Jism” but if we just stop and think, it’s a word in our local language. And what happens to your body, also in this country, should be with your consent and choice. But every time I read “Mera Jism Meri Marzi”, I see a comment by a man saying that these “loose liberal women” just want to walk around naked- sometimes a bikini is mentioned- and I wonder what planet these men are from. This slogan is not about an imaginary handful of privileged women playing dress-up. This slogan is about all people- across class and gender- whose bodies are policed, shamed, violated, exploited, abused- right down to being killed. It’s on you to educate yourself and seek out answers to things that make you uncomfortable. And we should be horrified at the realities this slogan stands for, not at the people brave enough to speak up.”