My faith in humanity just might have been restored this Ramazan.
While women of all ages atop scooters is a very common sight in our neighboring country India, in Pakistan, it is still rare.
However, you will see quite a lot of women riding pillion behind men. But there are certain conditions for a women pillion rider; you have to sit sideways so that your legs don’t straddle either side of the bikes since a woman sitting behind a man with her legs ‘open’ apparently is vulgar.
Even though the latter is the safer and advised way to sit on a bike as a pillion rider, it is rarely ever followed by Pakistani women.
This can cause a lot of accidents and mishaps. And combine sitting the ‘immoral’ way with riding with a strange man who you don’t know – well this gets you a lot of stares by society.
And this is exactly what Minahil Baloch was doing; using ride-hailing apps to choose the bike option so she could save money on her daily commute.
Taking the car option would cost her upwards of a 1000 rupees, given the distance she travels, and public transport wasn’t an option because of the hassle and random timings of the system.
Talking about the same, Minahil stated, “It is important [her choosing a bike option] because we’ve been given gender roles that tell us what a woman should do and what a woman shouldn’t. It’s time we don’t let society tell us what we should do.”
Minahil was bent on using bike services on her own, no matter how many stares it got her and how many people haw hayed at her. And she tweeted about it in order to encourage other women to choose the options as well instead of being scared about what society will think. In fact, Minahil made several television appearances talking about her using these bike services.
Scare them, hurt their egos, invade the spaces they took from you for 1000s of years, brutally hurt their egos while you live your life as you want to
Just btw, here's me at 12 am in the night, going to pull k us paar se is paar and not giving a fuxk about the stares i got pic.twitter.com/D2g28xvj3X
— Minahil baloch (@surkhminahil) May 5, 2019
But of course, even on Twitter, there were a lot of people who disagreed with what Minahil was doing and went as far as to call her a fake feminist.
Riding on bike with some unknown person is not feminism and it's not allowed in Islam. Stop giving excuses like public transport is not good. If there's no space in the bus, wait for the next one. If they're not giving you the space, be a woman and get your fucking space.
— Sakhwa.🇵🇰 (@sakhwa) May 7, 2019
Some1 plz tell her parents that she seriously needs their attention. They will have to realise her that she is precious before its too late.
— Muhammad Arsalan (@shaxx_khan) May 5, 2019
— Daddy yakkee (@Yaarlighterhoga) May 5, 2019
However, Minahil didn’t let this affect her and said, “People don’t take my activism seriously because it makes them uncomfortable. They will only like activism from women when it fits in their box.”
And then came those who thought what Minahil was doing wasn’t a big deal because there were people dying in other parts of the world. Because of course, the toxic mindset exists that dictates that you may have it bad, but someone else always has it worse.
Bari bat hai bhai bari bat hai careem ride lene se Palestine ka masla hal ho gaya.
Stop it go get some help. I know girls who ride bikes, doing jobs along with men with equal responsibilities, teaching without fee, traveling even climbing the mountains.
— Mansoor (@its_haque) May 6, 2019
Eventually, Minahil asked everyone to help her get a bike of her own since she couldn’t afford it. The idea was given to her by a few tweeps and she finally decided to go ahead with it, setting her goal for donations at 70,000 rupees.
I'm starting crowdfunding to get myself a scooty, since gofundme doesn't work in Pakistan. If you need my account details, pls reply to this tweet i will dm them to you.
— Minahil baloch (@surkhminahil) May 7, 2019
In an incredible moment for Pakistani Twitter, she raised the required funds within just 24 hours.
I mean, it’s amazing (and may be due to the fact it’s Ramazan and people feel very generous during the holy month?) But Minahil nonetheless was incredibly happy and told me that her faith in humanity had been restored due to the amazing people who contributed to her fund.
As for whether or not she knows how to ride a bike; she doesn’t. But she plans on learning and according to her, her excitement is much greater than the fear.
At least with Minahil, the cause of Pakistani women riding bikes will be furthered and hopefully even more normalized in our society so that mobility for women isn’t such an issue anymore.
What do you think of Minahil’s awesome story? Let us know in the comments below.
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Cover Image Source: Minahil Baloch personal/Samaa TV via Facebook.com