If there was one thing Qandeel Baloch wasn’t afraid of, it was speaking her mind. From taking aim at the Pakistani President to voicing her forthright feminist views, the social media sensation fought hard to eschew and challenge the rules of a deeply Conservative society throughout her short lifetime.
Tragically, it was this very valiant, fearless persona which eventually led to her being brutally murdered by her brother in the name of “honour” on Friday night at her family home at the age of 26.
Her brother, Waseem Baloch, 25, has since admitted to drugging and strangling her. In his own words: “Girls are born only to stay at home and to bring honour to the family by following family traditions but Qandeel had never done that ... I am a drug addict but I was in my senses when I murdered her and I accept it with pride”.
A model, actress, feminist activist and all round social media star, Baloch was steadfastly committed to challenging Conservative social taboos in a male-dominated society. Her at times risqué and always bold and sassy photos might not have been wildly different from those posted by young women in other parts of the world, but they were a great deal more unusual in Pakistan. After all, it is a country which came second to last on the World Economic forum's list of 145 countries with regards to gender disparity.
Born in the relatively remote and certainly conservative town of Shah Sadar Din in Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab, Baloch was born into a family of six brothers and six sisters. After landing her first job as a bus hostess, she rose to fame and amassed a hefty social media fan base for her Facebook videos and photos discussing her daily routine and various sociological and political issues. In turn, Baloch was able to tell the wider world what it was like to be female in Pakistan and increase Pakistani women’s visibility.
In 2003, she went on to audition for Pakistan Idol and her audition clip rapidly went viral. Before long, she became one of the top ten most searched people in Pakistan. Just a week before she died, she released a music video entitled "Ban" in which mocked the restrictions exerted on women in the country. Despite her rapidly-expanding social media platform and growing notoriety, interestingly she remained something of an enigma and disclosed little about her private life.
Always dividing public opinion, Qandeel was a controversial figure in Pakistan who was extolled by some but despised by others. A clear example of this was her promise to strip dance for Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi if he won the Twenty20 match against arch-rival India. She released a teaser for the dance on social media, which quickly went viral, but in the end Pakistan lost the match.
Here are those quotes which best define what Baloch was endeavouring to tell the world before she was tragically killed.
Following Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain request for people to avoid Valentine’s Day celebrations because it has “no connection with our culture.” Baloch said: “You can’t stop people loving each other. Only cheap and idiot politicians do such politics. I hate it.”
“Love me or hate me both are in my favour. If you love me I will always be in your heart and if you hate me I will be in your mind.”
“Pakistan is a free country, so according to me in a free country, it’s every right of the citizen to live the way they wish.”
“As a woman we must stand up for ourselves.. As a woman we must stand up for each other... As a women we must stand…“
“I know I am small in a way. But I know I am strong.”
“I will fight for it. I will not give up. I will reach my goal & absolutely nothing will stop me.”
“I am an inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly by society. I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating.”
“At least international media can see how I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t want to come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”
“I want to give those girls a positive message who have been forcefully married, who continue to sacrifice.”
“No matter how many times I will be pushed down under but I am a fighter I will bounce back. Qandeel Baloch is ‘One Women Army’.”
“It’s time to bring a change because the world is changing. Let’s open our minds and live in present.”
“One female can make a difference.”
“I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society.”
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