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A Grotesque Competition

by Andrew Purcell

A poll has recently been published in a Pakistani newspaper asking the readers to choose between Aafia and Malala.

Mazloom kon Aafia ya Malala?

This is appalling. The people behind this are heartless and evil monsters or they are complete idiots. I can't see room for a third possibility. They have taken the tragedies of two women who have been brutally and savagely attacked and reduced them to a macabre contest where we are expected to cheer one to victory over the other.

This is beyond nonsense. It is obscene. They are giving the false impression that only one may be chosen. Aafia and Malala are not competing stories to be cheered on by partisan fans in a grotesque sporting competition. They are two chapters of a single story with many other chapters, the story of official injustice and indifference in the service of hiding the cowardice, corruption, incompetence and failures of authority.

They have stripped both women of their humanity to promote agendas that are alien to both of them. It is even better if one dies from the gunshots to the head and neck and the other in prison. An inconvenient truth is less likely to appear. It's one of the reasons I loathe symbols. They can't speak for themselves.

Look into your own heart. Would you want your daughter to be treated the way Aafia and Malala have been treated? If you can answer yes to that question then go ahead and have fun with the poll. Turn them into dancing mannequins and applaud. Someone may get the chance to publish a similar poll for your daughter. And I will write this again in her defense.


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