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The Asia Bibi Case: An Analysis of Pakistan's Gender Regime

Asia Bibi’s case proves that the Pakistani gender regime, i.e. its regular set of arrangements about gender, is patriarchal to its core. This would be agreed by all radical feminists who firmly believe that men are not only responsible for women’s suffering but also benefit from it; this is because patriarchy ensures marginalization of women by making men institutionally dominant. Perhaps the male who gained the most out of Asia Bibi’s subjugation was late Khadim Rizvi who amassed great political power within a few years of her arrest. Some may say it was because of his charismatic authority but radical feminists would believe that he saw Asia Bibi’s case as an opportunity to gain power.

By circulating misinformation (even disinformation, some may argue), Rizvi mobilized masses of conservative Muslim right-wing men who blocked Islamabad for 20 days after Asia Bibi’s release. Forming the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP), his party received over 2 million votes in the country’s general election (2018). While he was gaining great political power, it was at the cost of Asia Bibi’s marginalization; he transformed from a local mosque cleric to a political leader only because he had a poor Christian woman re-arrested, regardless of the insufficient evidence present.

Walby may say that this case is an exhibit of “public patriarchy”, a macro mechanism that excludes women from society; here, the political and judicial structure formed this societal mechanism to exclude women from the narrative. Not only did a male-headed and male-dominated political party flourish, but Asia Bibi’s case was heard, and will be re-heard, by an entirely male jury.

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Your concerns are extremely valid in this case. The element of religion also played a significant role to question someone's loyalty. The mentality of this pro-Islamist group don't want any law even to kill someone. People use religion as a shield to represent their opinion, despite the fact that it was not an obvious way to judge any matter in this case as well. We understand the sensitive nature of the blasphemy problem in Pakistan. Two Pakistani lawmakers were assassinated in broad daylight for speaking out in support of Asia Bibi. Many instances of violent crowds lynching accused blasphemers have been documented. Extremists publicly threaten lawyers and judges who defend blasphemy victims. Then there are religious organisations that make use…

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I agree with your point that religion paid a tremendous role in Asia Bibi's case. Yes, her arrest was on blasphemy charges and, hence, it's categorized under religion.

However, another role that religion plays here is of maintaining the hostile state for anybody who fights for justice against the accused —not even proven guilty. Such justice advocates, like the politicians you mentioned, are likely to be silenced simply out of fear; this is because the blasphemy accusers often define morality on the basis of religion & not law and, hence, would not hesitate before putting the justice advocates' lives in danger.

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I agree with the explanation you have offered of Asia's case in terms of Connell's theory of gender order and would also like to analyze this relationship further. Connell argues that the social power held by men creates and sustains gender inequality. The patriarchal power still defines societies, and its individuals and institutions are based on the dominance of men over women. The Tehraikelabaik members who protested against Asia were all men, and they threatened to start riots if she was not punished. This represents the patriarchal notions present in society. Moreover, her case was also supposed to be heard and decided by an all-male bench of the Supreme Court also represents the power dynamics held by men in the…

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You've raised an excellent point about the social power held by men creating and sustaining gender inequality. If we are to look at this from the TLP protests you have mentioned, the masses demanding her punishment and mobilizing on the streets nationwide were mostly men. This is what neo-Marxist Althusser termed "repressive apparatus," i.e., a physically restraining mechanism against Asia Bibi.

This does sustain gender inequality itself; however, there is a deeper mechanism here at play that is sustaining patriarchy. This is the "ideological apparatus," which creates a commonplace idea in society that mass mobilization, protests, and hate speech is what women will receive if they're not treated the way the men want them treated (which in Asia Bibi's case…

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