Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered a pop singer to change his lyrics after a college girl complained that male students teased her by singing the song when she passed by, a court official said on Tuesday.
The court summoned the singer, Abrar-ul-Haq, last week after a girl called Parveen wrote to a newspaper saying she had stopped attending college in the eastern city of Lahore because of the harassment.
“The court has asked Abrar-ul-Haq to omit the name of the girl and some other objectionable words in his lyrics,” the court official said.
Haq, a well-known singer of Punjabi bhangra tunes, said he would abide by the court decision.
Lahore is the country’s most culturally rich and vibrant city, but while known for its liberals, artists, intellectuals and fun-loving people, it is also home to some of the most conservative sections of Pakistani society.
Did “the girl called Parveen” want the song changed, or did she want some relief from “the teasing” which if it caused her to drop out of college was perhaps something that could better be described as harassment? According to Amnesty International, this a region of Pakistan in which murders of women under the guise of honor killings are tolerated.
I guess the idea of song lyrics being censored by a judge is supposed to make Pakistani courts seem extreme and bizarre. The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that Rosa Parks had a right to bring suit when her name was used as the title of a song by OutKast. Years ago many people asked to have their phone numbers changed if they had been assigned 867-5309, in the wake of a song that sparked an onslaught of harassing phone calls, and it is possible the “real Jenny” was among them. Whether litigation was required or phone companies did this voluntarily is not clear.