A Pakistani fashion designer's recent collaboration with United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women Pakistan against the ills of dowry has left social media divided.
Ali Xeeshan's fashion campaign against dowry shows the "epochal and alarming issue of families fretting over saving money for their daughters’ dowry (Jahez) instead of their education that is far more important."
The video features a red lehanga-clad weary young woman, struggling to pull a cart weighed down by pile of things, being stacked by the bride's tired parents. The camera zooms in to show tears rolling down her cheeks, while the husband walks in and sits on top of the piled up stack.
The campaign marks Mr Xeeshan's latest collection 'Numaish', that was launched at the 'Pantene HUM Bridal Couture Week 2021' in collaboration with UN Women Pakistan.
The collaboration is part of UN Women's 'Jahez Khori Band Karo' campaign, which calls on people to stop asking for and giving dowry, reports Daily Pakistan. Jahez, is the other word of dowry, that is a quite celebrated and prevalent cultural practise in South Asian weddings.
Taking to Instagram, Mr Xeeshan shared his video calling for people to "put a stop to this overburdening tradition!"
The social statement was tweeted out by the official Instagram handle of UN Women Pakistan, which urged people to pledge against the practise of dowry.
UN Women Pakistan supports NUMAISH - a pledge against dowry by @ALIXEESHAN.Share this powerful message and join us to #StopDowryMongering #NumaishNaLagao #JahezkhoriBandKaro@UN_Women @unwomenasia pic.twitter.com/4RCXWpkB9f— UN Women Pakistan (@unwomen_pak) February 7, 2021
The concept was soon hailed by many on social media who came together to applaud the cause behind the launch.
Thank for highlighting this— Brilliance Foundation International (@BrillianceFdn) February 7, 2021
Very good initiative. This dowry culture has made the life of women hell in Pakistan.— Lucky Punjabi (@JuttZaadi_5Aabi) February 8, 2021
Very good, strong message. Well done— Sareer Ara (@SareerAra) February 7, 2021
Strong messageWell done 👍🏻— Dua~Bhutto (@DuaBhuttoPTI) February 7, 2021
Strong message— S Zainab Raza (@SZainabRaza1) February 7, 2021
However, for most, it was merely an act of 'hypocrisy'. Scores of netizens pointed out how the entire campaign comes down to a gimmick of selling expensive clothes. They said, even the social pressure pf buying such heavy and high-priced lehengas also add onto the financial crunch families go through during their marriages.
And the expensive dress cost 10 to 12 lackh also not acceptable— Adiba Khan (@kadiba60) February 8, 2021
Misplaced tweet by @unwomen_pak totally ignoring the fact that designers like @ALIXEESHAN are a huge part of the problem when it comes to weddings. Parents need to save for years before they can afford to buy bridal dresses from such designers and there’s a constant competition.— Sarwat Ayub (@sashayub) February 8, 2021
It is good to UN focused on dowry system, absolute this is very bad for all parents who spent their life for saving of dowry. But other side not having any sense that what their wish take burden on weak shouldera of girl's parents. It must be eradicate this nostril in society.— Engr: Arif Haider Bukhari 🍂 (@AffayEngr) February 9, 2021
But what to say to the designer who initiated this campaign & sold bridal dresses starting from LACS...An innocent question— Adnan Hameed (@adnan6673) February 10, 2021
For long, Mr Xeeshan has been teasing his new collection on social media by posting behind the scenes' pictures.