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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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