Feminism, sexuality and the rhetoric of Westernization in Pakistan

Precarious citizenship

Authored by: Moon Charania

Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367479657
eBook ISBN: 9781003043102
Adobe ISBN:


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On November 15, 2006, in a groundbreaking judicial call, the controversial 27-year-old Hudood Ordinances were overturned in Pakistan. Throughout the Hudood/women’s rights debates, a key oppositional strategy was deployed that necessitates serious transnational reflection – the tacit acceptance of the Pakistani feminist as “western.” This chapter argues that the construction of the Pakistani feminist subject as “western” constitutes the modus operandi – a central component of nationalist ideology, symbolizing western penetration into the region, elitism, and a dangerous force of disintegration to the body politic of the people, primarily through sexuality. A close reading of the resistance directed at local Pakistani feminists during the 2006 contentious debates is one example that allows the different ways that Westernization is both deployed and resisted to be unpacked.

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