Maryam Nasim struggles to tackle cyber bullying

    Pakistanis have predominantly been miser in appreciating and acknowledging the success of females. From nobel prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, activist Muniba Mazari and towards every one or the other such female, Pakistanis as a nation, have largely been malignant and vindictive.

    Probably the innocuous Zubaida Apa was the only lucky one to remain uncontroversial throughout. Most probably because she choose to be where most of Pakistani men want females to be and do something they want them to – kitchen and cooking. Those females who think and try do something other than that, ‘have to’ face the music.

    Australia-based Pakistani weightlifter Maryam Nasim goes through the same situation.

    Couple of years ago upon finding her passion and obsession for weightlifting, Maryam decided to go for it – weightlifting – and since then the response from people on social media has been largely quite negative. She had to face a lot of cyber bullying for choosing a something that is deemed to be a ‘male one’ in her native country.

    “Every now and then, on my personal profiles on social media, I get piles of abusive and discouraging comments on my posts and offensive direct messages.”

    Maryam has been bullied and harassed, online since she started posting photos and videos of her activities at gym few years ago on Instagram and Facebook. However, it (trolling) got sharply accelerated after she meteorically earned stardom upon receiving attention of mainstream media in Pakistan.

    Some trollers, according to Maryam, in their comments and messages would tell her to quit the weightlifting as it was something ‘against their cultural norms and religion’ for females, while others criticize her attire.

    Some of them send her ‘advisory’ messages telling her what was right and wrong and when she ignores, they, as a way to show their anger, send her nude photos and vulgar videos; collating her with them. Some of them even curse her parents for letting her daughter bring the shame to their family.

    “Irrespective of whatever they say is right or wrong, the way they use to convince me is utterly disgraceful and unacceptable,” says the dejected weightlifter, “How can one tell someone a virtous thing in such a humiliating manner.”

    Majority of such trollers and harassers, Maryam says, are sadly from her motherland who have their profiles brimful of quotes and virtuous posts. While others are hide behind fake profiles.

    Similarly there are a lot of leg pullers and those being vindictive and sometimes females are also no less than the opposite gender, she says.

    “You’re not the strongest woman of Pakistan, there are a lot of others much stronger than you,” she says. “That made me fall about and confused at the same time, as to why was she saying that; despite the fact that i never claimed to be one.”

    Initially such filth would made her upset as it’d be hard for her to ignore and move on but gradually to a great extent she learned to do so, thinking why she should let random losers control her life, she grins, “I’ve got a thick skin now.”

    Still, at times she is seen losing her cool and candidly replying to trollers on social media.


    Sheraz Akbar
    Sheraz is a freelance journalist based in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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